If you are a UK based punter then chances are you have been impacted by the recent withdrawal of the likes of Pinnacle Sports & SBOBet from the betting market due to the new Gambling & Licensing Act, which was scheduled to come into force this Wednesday. (Although it should be noted that yesterday it was announced that this has now been put back to the 1st November due to a legal challenge. I am awaiting news from Pinnacle on whether they will keep accounts open for a further month)
Mindful of the need to seek out genuine bookmaking alternatives for UK punters to use, here at the Smart Betting Club we have been speaking with the guys over at Matchbook about exactly how they can fill this particular void. They were kind enough to answer a variety of questions including a number put forward by some of you via the SBC Twitter account.
Matchbook is a sports betting exchange with good market liquidity and low commission rates. They are a growing force especially for those of you seeking out competitive odds in markets such as Football, NBA & NFL. With plans to expand their range of markets including the introduction of Horse Racing early next year and a range of special commission offers (including just 0% commission on in-play football) they are well worth checking out.
Here without further ado is our interview with Matchbook
SBC: First off what everyone wants to know in reference to the Gambling Act as put forward by @SunnyRanmal … Can you make a definite statement that you have no plans to leave the UK market?
Matchbook: We have submitted our application for a UK licence this week and have no plans to withdraw from the UK market. The Gambling Commission will issue licences to successful applicants on 1 October and we should be able to provide our services to UK customers from that date. As we already have a licence from the AGCC, we are confident that our licence application will be approved.
SBC: Mindful of this, how does this new Gambling Act impact you as a business if at all?
Matchbook: This is a huge opportunity for us. We do not foresee the new tax structure having an affect on the odds and liquidity we offer and we will continue to lead the market in value betting. We don’t think bookmakers will be as resilient and will find it much harder to be as competitive on price and margin as they previously were. More and more often, customers will see that Matchbook has the best prices.
SBC: The new tax has knocked out plenty of your competitors for the time being at least. What would you say to those people looking for an alternative place to bet and considering Matchbook?
Matchbook: Specifically in relation to the operators that have withdrawn, Matchbook as an alternative is a perfect fit. The sports & markets where they are competitive are exactly where Matchbook is strongest – quite simply, if you’re serious about betting on football, tennis or US sports, and you’re not betting on Matchbook, you’re effectively wasting money. The operators that have withdrawn have traditionally attracted the more savvy and price sensitive customers and we are confident they’ll quickly recognise the value proposition of Matchbook’s offering.
SBC: What are your current fees and commission rates?
Matchbook: We charge 1% commission on a volume basis. In addition to that we have some ongoing promotional rates available:
0% commission on all live tennis betting until the end of the year
0% commission on all live football until the end of September
0.5% commission on football handicaps until the end of the year
SBC: @OddsClogger was also keen to know if you will keep these existing rates and if they might change due to the new point of consumption tax?
Matchbook: As a low margin operator, we are reviewing our options. However, we are committed long term to offering the lowest commission rates and the best value in the industry
SBC: Moving onto the markets available on Matchbook, the key question with any exchange is the liquidity and the amount of money available to back and lay – how do your markets stand up in this regard?
Matchbook: As I mentioned earlier, they stand up exceptionally well. Our focus in growing Matchbook has been to take it one sport and market at a time, make sure that we have high quality prices and liquidity and move on to the next. For example, on the opening weekend of the NFL we matched over £22m in customer volume on 16 games and the first two nights of the Champions League have seen over £34m in pre-game, matched volume. We’re increasing our market offering all the time with a focus on offering the best price and liquidity available – a quick scan of the Oddschecker grid on a Saturday or Sunday will prove that we’re doing a good job of that.
SBC: Do you know how the liquidity in these markets compare with Betfair for example?
Matchbook: The majority of the time, Matchbook will have a better price and more liquidity, and this is before you factor in our lower commission! The feedback from customers who have moved over has been overwhelmingly positive and the growing momentum over the last 12 months is testament to that.
SBC: @CrazedAlchemist, @OddsClogger and @Hareeba all wanted to know if you will be expanding some of the markets you offer – specifically into lower league football beyond the Championship? E.g. offering bets in Leagues 1, 2 and the Conference?
Matchbook: Yes, we are working on expanding our offering at the moment, with L1 & L2 to come before the end of the year. Similar to what I outlined earlier, we want to make sure we can bring a top quality L1 & L2 product to the market before offering it.
SBC: In terms of expanding into other markets, @SunnyRanmal queried whether you still plan on introducing horse racing markets towards the end of this year?
Matchbook: It won’t be the end of this year but we are looking at introducing it early next year, with a view to being live on Matchbook for Cheltenham
SBC: How about other sports such as the NBA? Will you be covering all the games in the upcoming season?
Matchbook: We have long been one of the best places to bet NBA. Last season we had over £459m in matched volume. We offer moneyline, handicap and total for all games with 3-5 games a night available for in-running betting.
SBC: @oddsclogger also wanted to know if you intend to introduce a price and volume of money history (including a graph) for any bet you offer, similar to that available on the likes of Betfair?
Matchbook: Yes. However, we need to balance our development output between improvements on the existing product (see lower league football question above), & the release of new products (see horse racing above). So while this is something that is on our roadmap, we are conscious that there are some product advancements, which customers require more than others.
SBC: Do you have a mobile phone app or website for placing bets on the go?
Matchbook: Yes, we have a mobile website and apps for iPhone, iPad and Android. A vast majority of our customers are multiple device users and it was important to us to deliver a valuable second screen experience. Our mobile apps feature a lot of the same functionality as our website, providing our customers with complete access to our markets. Now they can bet how they want to and where they want to. Not to mention, Matchbook was the first company to offer full cashier functionality on mobile apps and we will continue to drive innovation in this space.
SBC: Finally, do you have any other developments or upcoming improvements to the Matchbook service you can tell us about?
Matchbook: Our main focus for the next few months will be adding to our overall product offering, especially in-running. For those that like trading applications we will be live on a popular one of those in the coming months. Additionally we will be adding a host of smaller features and functionality that will make it as easy as possible for users to access the liquidity and place their bets – this will include on-going improvements to our suite of mobile applications.
We have seen fantastic growth on Matchbook over the last 12-18 months. Looking at our product roadmap, as well as the ever evolving gambling market, we are very excited about what’s in store for the next 12 months and beyond.
Our thanks go to Matchbook for taking the time to answer these questions.
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