By John May
Want to make a bet over the net with other gamblers on an event of your choosing? At better odds than with any bookmaker? With a secure system designed to prevent fraud?
Now you can. The day of the betting exchange has begun.
What is a betting exchange? An internet site (prominent examples being flutter.com or betfair.com) whereby gamblers can post and accept person-to-person wagers. The exchange takes no direct interest in the bet but subtracts 5% commission from all winning wagers. The only restriction is that you must not be or behave like an actual bookmaker.
At present, the betting exchanges, despite incredible commercial success, are confined mostly to Britain. Although international customers are welcomed, the emphasis of these sites is clearly towards European sports and currency. But it's only a matter of time before these sites begin to expand globally and many are already making attempts to create international appeal.
Why use a betting exchange? Because, even after the commission, you invariably find you can get a much better deal than with the often inflexible online and terrestrial Nevada books. Haven't you ever had a straight-up bet with a friend at even money on a sporting event where you knew the bookies wouldn't give you half as good a deal? Now you have a thousand friends in a thousand living rooms, many with quite silly ideas about the probability of a given event. No steely-eyed bookmaker with his shrewd, mean and monotonously accurate predictions to overcome. Just other sports fans.
I am going to make a bold prediction: within five years the sports betting industry as we know it the world over will have been supplanted by the exchanges or will have adapted to incorporate the new system into their own network somehow. This a revolution: it's only when you begin to use an exchange that you understand how much better things can be for the punter.
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