Betting exchanges rattle bookies’ cages
By Paul
Major bookmakers’ antipathy to betting exchanges – as pioneered by outfits such as Betfair – is well documented. Now the bookies have turned their attentions on a rather smaller upstart,, a modest venture run by ex bookmaker Henry Spurway in Edinburgh, Scotland. Spurway has asked Edinburgh’s licensing board to allow him to open an Internet betting exchange and cafe in a former bank. Spurway’s partner in his new exchange venture is Betfair.

Betting exchanges are the newest phenomenon to evolve in betting - punters bet over the Internet against each other, rather than directly with a bookie. So far these have all been virtual sites.

Spurway’s simple idea was to combine the concept of a bookie’s shop with an Internet cafe and betting exchange facilities. His argument was that he would not be opening a bookmaker’s shop, but a type of stock exchange, in which the share trading would be between individuals trading odds with each other.

Predictably, Ladbrokes and William Hill objected strongly to the application. They maintain that betting exchanges are illegal, but Spurway’s arguments prevailed with the licensing board. Betfair’s involvement in the Betting Levy scheme, and Spurway’s history as a bookmaker in his own right, are thought to be strong factors in the granting of the license.

Spurway, who sold his Larkspur chain of shops to finance, is already talking about opening 100 such shops across the United Kingdom.

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