|Time Europe has named Andrew Black of Betfair as one of their top ten list of individual’s who are playing a major role in changing the way technology is used in our lives. In their 19 July issue, The Times will be publishing their list, and regard the innovative cofounder of Betfair as having had a huge impact on the way the Internet is used.|
Since its launch in 2000, Betfair has become increasingly popular- now boasting a quarter of a million registered users and an extraordinary US$90 million worth of wagers placed every week. The success of Betfair has impacted greatly on the internet gambling industry as a whole- not only inspiring more sites of a similar nature, but also significantly contributing to the overall growth of the industry- the company now contributes about 13% of the whole annual revenue generated by the online sports-betting sector.
The fundamental premise of the site- that being that there is no actual bookmaker- with registered customers offering bets to each other- is not only a primary reason for the site’s success, but also has proven a great point of controversy and debate within the industry. With pretax profits for the company rising from US$1.9 million in April 2002 to US$15.5 million in April 2003, the site was always going to be a sticking point for other members of the industry. The point critics chose to focus on was the fear that inherent in the nature of the site, allowing people to bet against each other, as well as being able to “lay” bets, that is bet on a team, horse or player to lose rather than win invites corruption. Graham Sharpe of William Hill has commented that, “If you have a bet on an exchange, you don’t know who it’s with; if [the person] is offering extravagant odds, you don’t know why”.
Black’s response to this kind of accusation is to point out that Betfair has written agreements with other organisations, including the England Jockey Club and The English Football Association, to report back on any suspicious bets, and claims that the site actually makes any such suspect wagers easier to identify. Despite the controversy the site has attracted, it is now available in 85 countries, and the growth it has enjoyed is remarkable. This newest accolade for the company just confirms what an impact it has had on the online sports gambling industry.