Via this link, you have 150 days commission free to try out Matchbook in an exclusive SBC offer!
The founding of the Betfair Exchange at the turn of the century changed the UK’s sports betting landscape forever.
Peer-to-peer betting, the facility for regular punters to lay, trading, in-play markets, lower margins and no stake limitations were just some of the differentials that set this platform apart from the traditional bookmaker offering. It worked, with exponential growth characterising their first decade of operation.
Competitors to the behemoth struggled to compete and Betfair’s dominance is signified by the fact that many of us still use ‘the exchange’ and their name interchangeably (see also ‘the machine’!).
A merger with Paddy Power in 2016 may well prove to be the moment that things changed.
Liquidity in key markets has dried up when compared to its peak, a sportsbook and casino products have diluted the original concept and, like most of the ‘soft’ bookmakers, the way in which Betfair has dealt with Source of Funds (SOF), Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and affordability checks has caused consternation with both punters and layers alike (see Twitter/X for plenty of examples – we have had many complaints shared with us).
Matchbook: A Viable Alternative?
Matchbook are one of the challengers looking to take the Betfair crown.
As we will explore below, their internal analysis suggests that they now compete toe-to-toe with Betfair in certain key markets; they are even leaders in others.
In November 2023, SBC were provided access to some of Matchbook’s data which looked to benchmark their offering against key rivals using the two key metrics on exchanges – liquidity and price.
Since then, we have carried out our own research by observing markets for the best prices and liquidity alongside trading volume so that we could verify some of these numbers in real time.
More On The Upcoming Betting Clever Podcast (Out Tuesday 30th Jan)
All of this was in preparation for a chat with Ronan McDonagh (Head of Exchange at Matchbook) that we recorded earlier in January. We asked him about these figures and how they were calculated before quizzing him on more general questions like where he thinks Matchbook are now, where they aim to be and how they are planning to get there.
Alongside this, we also talked about issues that SBC Members and other bettors will want clarity on. Affordability, AML and SOF checks; successful players and how Matchbook will manage them; markets, commission, liquidity and unique products – all of these were on the agenda when we met.
It is clear that Matchbook wants new customers to look at their products and they have an extremely attractive sign up offer so that bettors can test the platform for themselves. As a reader of this piece, you can get 150 days on the Matchbook platform commission free by using this link and bonus code when registering.
Ronan and his team are also open to dialogue with users (both backers and layers) so getting in touch is definitely worth it if you have any questions that we did not cover (Ronan’s direct contact details are provided below).
SBC Podcast #69: Betting Clever will be released on Tuesday 30th January, (available on all major podcast directories free of charge to listen to!) but before that, we thought that sharing some of the headline data from Matchbook would be of interest.
Here it is, with our notes and observations included:
What Is The Data Saying?
Matchbook data indicates that liquidity for horse racing is one area where they are competing well with Betfair. Liquidity in the 5 minutes before the off is deeper at Matchbook and also compares very favourably against Betdaq too. If you are betting in sizeable stakes, you will be able to get them down:
Pricing tells a slightly different story. The back prices on Matchbook were best 78.5% of the time over this sample, with Betfair being best 83.2% of the time and Betdaq being best 69.4% of the time. If you are a layer, then Matchbook is best (80% vs. 77% vs. 63.3% respectively)*.
As previously mentioned, higher staking punters may well get better average prices with Matchbook, especially as they have depth in the ‘first three boxes’ and generally have competitive odds.
*For clarity, if prices were the same in this sample, they were counted twice (or three times) for the label of ‘best’.
Mean averages don’t tell the whole story, however. We have noticed that these patterns don’t play out as consistently as you might expect.
‘Day racing’ consistently has better liquidity on Betfair, with the volume of traded money before this 5 minute window dwarfing the other exchanges. When it comes to evening racing, that pattern is often reversed and Matchbook regularly have larger traded volumes for these meetings, even after the disparities in recording are accounted for.
This 5 minute window is a useful one to capture data but we wanted to know more about how these numbers looked prior to the late action ‘on the off’. This is something that we discussed with Ronan and he provided clarity about it in our chat so you will be able to hear more about this when SBC Podcast #69 is released.
Another question we posed is why Matchbook doesn’t offer a ‘SP’ or ‘on the off’ price option, something that is very popular with system bettors and some of the tipsters that we work with. Ronan revealed that this is a question that frequently gets fired his way and you can hear about their plans for the future in this area in the podcast!
Football (we refuse to call it soccer!)
The story is a little different with football. Betfair has the best liquidity by some margin and our personal observations and sampling indicate that this is the case in the days and hours before kick off too.
Pricing is actually better at Betdaq for back bets in this market, with the lay side yet again being led by Matchbook:
Other Sports: NFL & Greyhounds
Liquidity for both NFL and greyhounds is now deeper at Matchbook than both of their main rivals, with Betfair offering the only real competition for sizeable bets. Ronan touched on Matchbook’s history of focussing on American sports in our chat, with further plans afoot to maintain this advantage.
Similar graphs comparing both price and liquidity for these markets are available to view underneath this body of text.
Special Offer: 150 Days Commission Free
As you will hear in our podcast interview with Ronan, Matchbook are keen to grow their customer base and, in turn, liquidity, which is good for everyone (competition = lower margins!).
To entice those of you who haven’t used Matchbook before, readers of this article can now access the platform for 150 days without paying a penny in commission.
For the record, this is the best introductory promotion that Matchbook have ever offered and will cover events including Cheltenham and the European Championships, making it a deal well worth taking up!
This link will provide you with the right code to get onto the platform with the offer.
Get In Touch – Matchbook Personal Assistance
A theme of our chat was the ‘personal touch’ that Ronan and his team want to offer customers. Instead of dealing with automated systems or Customer Service Agents following a script, Matchbook want you to get in touch if you have any questions.
Ronan can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can contact him on Twitter/X @irishro if you would prefer.
I have also copied some of the other images as per market liquidity from Matchbook’s study below for full reference!