In recent weeks, posts about gambling site Betfair.com closing to various countries have appeared on gambling forums. One example is a 2+2 post claiming Betfair is leaving 12 countries including Canada and Russia which cites Daily Racing Forum (DRF) as the source. The problem is the DRF post is likely not accurate. Many websites have rewritten this story in an attempt to pass it off as their own. This has caused rumors to spread across the web. In this post I attempt to clarify what is actually going on at Betfair.
The same date DRF posted their article (13 Dec 2012), Betfair released their fiscal half-year report. While revenue was up slightly, they were down in most categories. I admit, I don’t follow well enough to know how much of this was expected, but as the image to the left shows – share prices have declined since the report was released. This report is very long and can be read here. The start of page 3 is what is relevant and discusses their change in strategy.
Two things you’ll notice is nowhere in this report is Canada or Russia even addressed. They also only speak about refocusing their marketing efforts. No such plan to exit 12 countries as the DRF report states is included. So where did this number 12 come from? I have two weak guesses.
According to David L. who runs a site about the best betting sites, Betfair changed their affiliate program on 28 January 2013 and now only pays on players sent from UK, Australia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Sweden. Notice that is exactly 12 countries.
Also, for many years – Betfair has blocked players from 7 countries: USA, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malta, France and Turkey for regulatory reasons. In 2012, South Africa, Germany and Greece were added to this list bringing the count to 10. The DFR post claims Betfair is leaving 12 countries including Canada and Russia. If true – that would make 12 countries that Betfair restricts.
Still that would be a pretty gross error and most likely the number 12 is just coincidence. One reason the DFR report lacks credibility is they claim Betfair is leaving two countries which they were already not taking players from. Also, as of 30 January 2013, players from Russia and Canada can still register for a Betfair account, deposit and make bets. Nowhere else on the web is there a credible report that mentions Betfair is leaving Canada, Russia (or a dozen countries that they hadn’t already left for that matter) that doesn’t appear to be a spin of the 13 December 2012 article by Daily Racing Forum.
Conclusion: Betfair has simply changed their marketing focus and likely are not sure of every market they will stay in long term. For members of their affiliate program no payments will be made on players from countries other than UK, Australia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Sweden. It would appear those are the countries Betfair is committed to. For all remaining countries, other than the ten they restrict, players can still sign up, deposit, bet and withdrawal. The only changes for players not in locations on either list is no more Betfair ads will be seen on TV or the side of the bus. Other than that, at this time, there is no change.
While I’m sure DFR is getting great traffic from the links that article has attracted, but there is no credible confirmation that what is covered in their article is true. At the same time there is no denying it was a very tough year for Betfair. Reports are still lingering about issues with professional players and the old batched Happy Hour Special. The bigger issue is the cost of legally doing business around the world has increased due to countries regulating and taxing gambling. This is a trend that won’t end as more countries look to do the same. As already seen with Germany, the exchange model doesn’t fit all regulatory models.