Betfair continues to expand on horse racing market

Online betting exchange Betfair Australia, which is co-owned by Oz gambling mogul James Packer, has extended its penetration of the horse racing market with the introduction of in-run betting at the prestigious Melbourne Cup, traditionally run over the first Tuesday in November. Company spokesmen said that this form of wagering is expected to dominate gambling in Australia as punters become more technologically savvy, sports become more dependent on product fees and governments less tolerant of poker machines.

Betfair has been aggressively pursuing in-run wagering in the Land Downunder, introducing it last month on selected races on Guineas Day at Caulfield, and extended it to all 10 races on the Derby card at Flemington.

Prior to the big event, Betfair's chief executive, Andrew Twaits, said: "This will be the first Melbourne Cup where Australians will have the chance to bet online while the race is being run."

Betfair's in-running volumes have risen in recent weeks, from A$48 800 on Guineas Day to A$58 800 on Caulfield Cup day and A$60 200 on Cox Plate day to A$143 500 on Derby Day.

Looked at in the context of the $1.36 billion taken by Tabcorp alone during last year's Victorian spring racing carnival, it's not yet big money, but the potential is clearly there. Twaits says, "Anything over 1 percent of total volume on the Melbourne Cup will be a good result. Online in-running betting represents a generational change in the way punters can bet on races."

Betfair extracts an average commission of 3.5 percent on the net result, compared with the 15 percent typically taken by TABs.

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