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Racing: net prophet - Betfair's new filter aimed at luring in exchange stragglers.

Byline: Alex Hankin

NOT content with bestriding the planet like some sort of bet-brokering behemoth, Betfair want more, more, MORE! - and are set to unleash a refined version of their product, designed to tempt stragglers into the world of exchange betting.

This new agent of p2p evangelism - the Simplified Odds Interface - is pencilled in for launch next Monday, in time for the Cheltenham Festival, although the World Cup this summer could be a key target for a product aimed straight at the heartland of traditional online bookmakers.

The thinking is that p2p is not as 'accessible to a mass-market audience' as it might be - all those numbers. So, Betfair are stripping down one gateway to the exchange so that it offers less: just the 'back' odds. No laying option, no liquidity or market depth - just a single price.

It's the same price that you would see in the normal interface, because the SOI is just a filter - taking out the extraneous information that makes up the Betfair market. All you see is the duck, not the frantic underwater paddling.

It must all be very worrying for Ladbrokes, Hills and co - making direct comparison between prices seem so much easier for ordinary folk - particularly as the tax on winnings, or commission, has always been a part of the exchange 'duck' that operates on the out of sight, out of mind principle.

It will be interesting to see how refugees from trad firms cope in practice with the liquidity issue on 'fringe prices' - when, for example, a pounds 50 SOI punter only gets pounds 30 of his bet matched at the standout 5.5, with the rest left waiting in line. Betfair have sensibly overhauled the help facility, perhaps not entirely coincidentally.

It's just one part of a package of changes designed to try to make Betfair more loveable. Racing punters on the SOI and the main site will now get to see silks, jockeys and a block of 'mouseover' information for each runner, including form figures and trainer' in-play soccer markets will now feature live scores.

It's all aimed at "removing the need for customers to go to other websites to find this information". So that's their game, the fiends.

netprophet@racingpost.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

The exchange 'duck'
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Feb 21, 2006
Words:378
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