In 1999, The Sports Exchange was born out of a chance meeting between two individuals, Andrew ‘Bert’ Black and Edward Wray, both of whom each had a strong affiliation with the horse racing and sports gambling industries throughout Europe and Australia. They founded the Sports Exchange as a vehicle to facilitate direct sports and horse race wagering between individual clients, essentially removing the need for a bookmaker. This type of wagering represented a revolutionary idea that was met with great enthusiasm by gamblers all over the world.
In 2000, the name was changed to Betfair Betting Exchange. The new name established a viable brand that clearly identified the group’s product line. Over the years, the company has expanded that product line to include a poker room, a fixed odds sports book, a bingo parlor and one of the industry’s most extensive and exciting online casinos, which includes “live” casino gaming.
In 2010, the company launched one of the most exciting IPOs in recent history, offering stock under the name Betfair Entertainment Limited on the London Stock Exchange. With a focus on providing investor value, the company continues to develop unique wagering opportunities and gaming products, assuring that Betfair’s place as one of the largest gaming operations in the world will stand the test of time. The remainder of this review will focus exclusively on the Betfair online casino.
Unlike many of the current online casinos, Betfair’s casino division has opted to rely on name recognition instead of a flashy website that is filled with the usual bells and whistles. This site is simple and straightforward, offering just the right amounts of advertising and information. Overall, players should find the site easy to navigate. Across the top of the landing page, players have easy access to each of the relevant pages (promotions, mobile app information, game-types, etc). At the bottom, players will be able to find information related to the company, rules and regulations, terms and conditions, security and contact information. Most importantly, players, ranging from novice to professional, should find that the website creates a sense of fun and excitement. The variety of games offered is quite extensive, providing a little something for everyone.
Betfair’s casino is powered by Playtech, one of the online gaming industry’s largest and most popular software platforms. Playtech is a true innovator, providing games that feature cutting edge video and audio technology. For players that enjoy brand names, Playtech has contracts with relevant brands such as Marvel Comics and MGM, which allows them to develop games with recognizable and exciting themes.
The site is available in both download mode and Flash (instant play) mode with “no download required”. The software works with most, if not all operating systems and conventional web-browsers. For players on the go, a downloadable mobile app is available for devises that are compatible with the iOS (Apple) and Android operating systems. Note: Players who opt to play via the mobile app will find the number of available games is restricted.
Licensing and Security
Licensing: Betfair operates under a license provided by the Lotteries and Gaming Authority of Malta. As such, they are bound by Malta’s rules and regulations. For players located in the UK, additional licensing and regulations are provided by the UK’s Gambling Commission, which assure fairness in advertising for the region.
Security: Betfair puts a great deal of emphasis on site security. The overall site uses 128-Bit SSL encryption and firewall technology to protect both player’s personal information and the site’s banking module. The games are all audited and tested for “fairness” on a periodic and random basis. The testing and certification of all games are provided by the independent testing labs at Technical Systems Testing (TST).
Bonuses and Promotions
In a highly competitive industry, online casino operators recognize the value of offering players a diversified range of bonuses and promotions as a means to reward current players and drawn new ones. Prior to accepting any of a site’s bonus offers, players need to read the “terms and conditions”, which vary from one promotion to the next. For most players, the roll-over or play-through requirement is of utmost importance since it dictates when bonus funds can be withdrawn. The promotions listed below are currently listed on the site, but are subject to change at anytime by Betfair.
No Deposit Required Promo – The bonus program starts with a “no deposit required” deposit of £/€5. With this small amount, players are offered the opportunity to navigate the casino site and try out a couple of slots games. With the “no deposit required” promotion, the roll-over requirement is 40X the bonus amount.
Welcome Bonus Promotion – The welcome bonus promotion for the online casino at Betfair would be considered average by industry standards. It offers players two different options to choose from based on their first deposit:
– This option offers a 200% matching deposit bonus up to a maximum value of £300. A minimum deposit of £10 is required and the player is allowed to use the funds on any of the site’s available games (excluding the “live” casino games). The roll-over requirement is 37 times. Players should be aware that each game played has a different percentage that becomes applicable to the roll-over requirement. Slots offer the highest value all the way down to games like baccarat, which offer the lowest value.
– This option offers a 100% matching deposit bonus up to a maximum value of £200. A minimum deposit of £20 is required and the player is allowed to use the funds on one of the site’s designated “live” casino games. The roll-over requirement is 60 times (excluding “live” baccarat and “live” Hold’em). Players should be aware that wagers on “live” blackjack will earn roll-over value at 50% while “live” roulette will earn roll-over value at 100%.
Other Promotions On an intermittent basis, Betfair offers a variety of other promos. Some of these promotions, such as the current “Red Nosed Rein-Dealer” promotion, will be seasonal or applicable to specific holidays. Players should be also be aware that Betfair will also send out special promotional offers, which are not listed on the site, through email. Many of these promos provide the player with free spins, tournament invitations and reload bonus opportunities throughout the year.
VIP Club – Betfair’s VIP Club offers loyal players the opportunity to receive additional benefits by earning comp points while playing any of the site’s casino games. The more points a player earns, the closer they get to qualifying for the VIP Club. This is a three-tiered club. The qualifications for each tier are as follows:
- Gold : 50,000 comp points
- Platinum: 150,000 comp points
- Diamond: 350,000 comp points
At each level, players receive proportionately increasing special benefits such as exclusive bonus promotions, a personal VIP account manager, special gifts, special event invitations, accelerated comp points and lower roll-over requirements. This isn’t one of the best VIP programs in the industry, but it is at least competitive with many of the other top-rated sites.
With all things considered equal, the number and quality of games offered by an online casino are usually what draws players to a site. By offering some of the best games available from Playtech’s extensive library of games, Betfair players are assured of having a wide range of games from which to choose. The site offers just over 200 different casino games plus four “live” casino options. The games come in the following categories:
- Progressive Video Slots – “Gladiator”, The Incredible Hulk”, “Wall Street Fever” “Captain America”, “Iron Man”, “Iron Man II”, “Iron Man III”, “Spamalot”, “Electra”, “Queen of the Pyramids”….. and many more
- Non-Progressive Video Slots – “Sherlock Mystery” (new), “Thor – The Mighty Avengers”, “Top Trumps World Football Stars”, “Esmeralda”, “Wild Gambler – Arctic Adventure” (new), “Three Musketeers” (new), “The Sopranos”, “Ghost Rider”, “Spiderman”……..and many more
- Table Games – “Pinball Roulette” (new), “American Roulette”, “3D Roulette”, “Craps”, “Sic Bo”, “Wild Viking”, “European Roulette”….and many more
- Card Games – “Blackjack”, “Caribbean Stud Poker”, “Baccarat”, “Blackjack Surrender”, “Pontoon”, “Tequila Poker”, Red Dog”, “Pai Gow”, “Casino Hold’em”…….and many more
- Video Poker – “25 Line Aces and Faces”, “Deuces Wild”, “Jacks or Better”, “Joker Poker”…..and many more
- Arcade Games – “The Money Drop”, “Blade Scratch”, “Frankie’s Fantastic 7”, “Jackpot Darts”, “Iron Man II Scratch”, “Cops and Bandits”, “Keno”, “Fantastic Four Scratch”…..and many more
- Live Casino Games – Baccarat, Roulette, Blackjack, Hold’em
Popular Slots Reviews
While many of the best card and table games tend to be rather generic from one developer to the next, Playtech’s video slots are unique with fun and exciting video/audio features and challenging bonus games. Here are a few of the developer’s most popular offerings, which are available through the Betfair site.
Sherlock Mystery – Unravel the latest Sherlock Holmes mystery with the help of Dr. Watson and receive a chance to win big money. This game is played with five reels and 20 pay lines. The minimum coin value is $.01 per line with a maximum of $100 per line. The standard symbols are represent by playing card numbers 9-K plus Dr. Watson, Sherlock Holmes, a gun and a letter opener. The wild symbol is represented by Professor Moriarty and substitutes for everything but the scatter symbol (Baker St. sign) and the special bonus symbol (magnifying glass). Three or more scatter symbols earn 10 free spins, which are regenerating. During free spin rounds, the gun becomes an addition wild symbol and random multipliers are activated with each win. Three or more special bonus symbols takes the player to a crime scene. The player keeps choosing pieces of evidence until they hit the “collect” symbol. Each piece of evidence has a cash value. The graphics on this game are decent, but there isn’t much in the way of video features. Overall, the bonus game helps keep this game fun and exciting.
Iron Man III – The adventure of Iron Man continue here with the third game in the series. Iron Man III is a progressive jackpot slot game played with five reels and 25 pay lines. The minimum bet is $.01 per line and a max of $10 per line. The standard symbols are composed of playing card numbers 9-A plus the yellow, red and blue Iron Man uniforms. The Iron Man logo serves as the wild symbol that substitutes for everything but the scatter symbols (Mark 42, Iron Patriot, War Machine). Three of the same scatter symbols gives the player a chance to play a free spin game based on that specific scatter symbol. The Mark 42 free spin game comes with 10 free spins with freezing wilds and extra free spin opportunities. The Iron Patriot free spin game comes with 15 free spins and an escalating multiplier (2X-5X). The War Machine free spin game comes with 8 free spins with three random wilds appearing on every free spin. If the player lines up a Mark 42 on reel one, War Machine on reel three and Iron Patriot on reel five, it ignites one free “all-systems-go” spin where all three scatters are locked in position. The game also features a four-level progressive jackpot opportunity that appears at random during any spin. The bonus features on this game can create real excitement. The video features and graphics are decent, making this a first-class game.
Deal or No Deal – This game is based directly on the game show that was popular on television earlier this decade. The game has five reels and 20 pay lines. The coin values range for this game range between $0.02-$10.00 per pay line. The low-paying symbols are represented by playing card symbols 10-K plus the playing board, the banker, the brief-case girls, the red button and the game show stage. Higher paying symbols include the gold and silver brief-cases. The wild symbol is represented by the “Deal, No Deal” logo and substitutes for everything but the scatter symbol (ringing phone). Three or more scatter symbols trigger one of three different bonus games. The “Reel Banker” game offers free spins on a continual basis until the until the banker symbol appears on reel three. The “Banker’s Best Offer” game offers the player a random multiplier of 1X-20X. The player receives up to 10 offers and must decide deal or no deal on each one until he accepts one. If the first nine are declined, the player automatically gets the 10th offer. The “Reel Banker Bonus” game allows the player to play the television version of “Deal/No Deal” where they select a box and keep eliminating boxes and receiving offers from the banker. Finally, the game also offers a three-tiered progressive jackpot for matching five colored suit cases with a maximum wager. The graphics on this game are ordinary, but the audio features and bonus games do a good job of creating a game show atmosphere. Deal/No Deal fans well love this one.
Gladiator – This game is based on the Academy award-winning film starring Russell Crowe. The game is played with five reels and 25 play lines. The minimum coin value is $.02 with a max of $25.00. The player can choose to wager up to 10 coins per line, making this a great non-progressive slot game for high-rollers. Standard symbols are represented by card symbols 10-K plus key characters from the movie such as Lucilla, Commodus, Juba, and Proximo. The gladiator helmet acts as the wild symbol and subs for everything but the scatter symbol (Colosseum). The wild only appears on reels 2-4 and three of them on any spin takes the player to a bonus game. During this game, the player picks a gladiator mask, which reveals a multiplier of 1X-10X. If three or more scatters are hit, the player gets to a chance to play a different bonus game. In this one, the player chooses four different stones to be used to determine the parameters of a free spin round. The four stones determine how many spins, the multiplier, the scatters that will be used and the wild symbols that will be used. In some respects, this game comes off rather ordinary. However, the bonus rounds add to the intrigue, which makes this game fun and exciting.
X-Men – The super-heroes with the X-Gene are here to help players search for the big progressive jackpot. In the meantime, the game is played on five reels with 25 pay lines. The coin values start at a minimum of $.01 per line up to a maximum of $5.00 per line. Up to 10 coins may be played per spin. The symbols are divided into two teams: The villains are represented by Mystique, Sabre-tooth, Magneto, Death-strike and Juggernaut while the heroes are represented by Wolverine, Night-crawler, Cyclops, Professor X and Storm. The wild symbol is portrayed by “wild” and subs for everything but the scatter symbol, which is represented by the X-Men logo. There are three different bonus chances available during play. The “X-Bonus” is awarded when three hero symbols appear on reels 2-4, forming an X. When this occurs, the player receives an automatic 5X multiplier on the win. The next bonus feature is the “Heroes/Villain” free spin mode. This feature is activated by three or more scatters, which rewards the player with unlimited free spins in hero mode and eight free spins in villain mode. The catch is that the two modes switch back and forth each time a designated symbol (Magneto during hero mode, Professor X during villain mode) appears on the middle reel. The player just keeps spinning until they have exhausted the eight villain mode games. In this game, the action is fast a furious. The graphics, video and audio features are first class, making this one of Playtech’s better efforts.
Sweet Party – For players with a sweet tooth, this game is sure please. In fact, this game represents one of the most unique slot game formats ever devised. Instead of the tradition five reel setup with a specified number of pay lines, this game is played on a 5X5 space grid. The minimum wager is $1 per spin up to a maximum of $10 per spin. The object of the game is to match up a minimum of five icons in a row either vertically or horizontally. There are only six different icons, which are represented by a green gummy bear, yellow doughnut, red hot tamale, peppermint candy, blue star candy and a pink candy. From here, the game is simple to play. The payouts start by matching five consecutive symbols of the same icon. For each additional consecutive symbol of the same icon, the payouts escalate. The top payout of 5,000X occurs if the player hits 16 or more consecutive symbols of the same icon. The game has a progressive jackpot that is available if the player hits 8 or more consecutive peppermints in a row. The payout will be determined based on the amount wagered. This game is fun despite its simplicity. The players has nothing to do but spin, but the chance to win big money is very enticing, making this game a keeper.
Currently, Betfair offers about a dozen different banking options for the convenience of its players. Monies sent via most of these methods will be credited immediately to the player’s account upon receipt by the site. Some of the more popular options offered are Visa, Visa Debit, PayPal, Maestro, Master Card, Skrill, Visa Electron, Neteller, Clickandbuy, Western Union and bank transfer. As a footnote, the availability of these options may very due to country of origin. Withdrawals can be made using several of these same methods. Withdrawals are subject to a pending period and may require documentation as proof of identity prior to issuing of the initial payout. Players should refer to the site for transfer limits.
Betfair offers its customers a variety of methods for contacting customer service. The most convenient method is through the “live chat” option that is accessible from anywhere on the site. If immediate response is not required, the player has the option of calling or sending an email. Representative are available 24/7.
The benefits of gambling with a site such as Betfair that is owned by a publicly traded entity are numerous. They tend to follow rules more closely, offer better protection for the player and respond promptly to issues. The site has a great reputation and offers a wide range of gaming options. While the promotions are limited, player should consider this site over sites that have huge promotions, but suspect integrity. With access to full-service gambling, players should rate Betfair towards the top of their playlist.