Updated on 08/11/2016 7:44PM

Betfair's N.J. exchange wagers average $150K per week


Wagering through Betfair’s New Jersey-based exchange-wagering system that was launched this spring has averaged approximately $150,000 a week in its first three months and appears to be declining on a weekly basis, according to figures provided this week by the New Jersey Racing Commission.

Though officials of Betfair have declined to provide estimates for their expectations for the service, the numbers are certainly not overwhelming, and the decline in the running average is troubling for a new service that has been enthusiastically embraced in some foreign jurisdictions. Through the first seven weeks, the running average for weekly handle through the system was $163,175, 8 percent higher than the running average through the first 13 weeks of operation. The platform was launched May 10, and the New Jersey commission figures are through Aug. 7.

In a statement in response to questions, Betfair officials said they were not surprised or concerned about the figures, saying that exchange-wagering presents a steep learning curve for players who are accustomed to betting through the parimutuel system and who are largely unfamiliar with the hedging strategies that are available through Betfair’s platform. Betfair officials also said that because restrictions on the system limit its reach to customers in New Jersey – whose bets can nonetheless be matched by Betfair’s large stable of players in the U.K. – the average numbers can fluctuate dramatically week to week.

“We are very happy about the beta launch of exchange in the U.S.,” said Kip Levin, the chief executive of Betfair U.S., which also owns the television network and account-wagering company TVG. “It’s still very early, and given the small sample to date, we are very encouraged with the initial results.”

Exchange wagering, which was pioneered 15 years ago by Betfair in its home jurisdiction, the U.K., allows customers to post odds on horses and accept bets from other customers, akin to acting as an individual bookmaker, with additional opportunities to post and accept bets during the running of the race. The weekly average figure represents the amount of bets risked by players in New Jersey, even if those bets were matched with players in the U.K.

Levin is scheduled to speak Sunday at the Jockey Club Round Table Conference on Matters Pertaining to Racing. Levin is expected to address the launch of the exchange-wagering system, although he is also expected to address the impact of the 2015 merger of TVG and HRTV, its competitor in live television programming.

According to the New Jersey Racing Commission, Monmouth Park has been the most popular track on the site, followed by Evangeline Downs in Louisiana and Mountaineer Park in West Virginia. The New Jersey site has been offering wagering on 21 U.S. tracks, but most major racetracks, including Del Mar and Saratoga, are not offered on the service.

Some racetracks and horsemen have balked at giving approval to Betfair because of an unwillingness to come to financial terms with the company or concern over the perception that trainers or jockeys may deliberately compromise their horses’ chances in a race in order to capitalize on the ability to bet on a horse to lose on the site.