Founded in 1967 in the area of Ordsall, Greater Manchester, Betfred was the brainchild of two brothers named Fred and Peter Done. As you might well have guessed, it was named in honour of the first of the Done boys and started life as a single high street shop. Sufficed to say it’s done rather well since then, growing at a rate of knots to the point where it’s turnover by 2004 was in excess of £3.5 billion.
A large part of that is because of the explosion of online betting, which the company was able to take advantage of. They’ve also grown their reputation over the years through gimmickry, intelligent advertising and by winning the bidding to take over the Tote back in 2011. I’ll tell you a bit more about that when I come to talk about the horse racing coverage, but what I will say is that by buying that they became one of the biggest bookies for horse racing in the UK.
If you’re someone that loves betting on events live or watching racing via a stream then you’ll want to know whether they’re services that a bookmaker offers. In fact, considering that all bookies worth their salt cover the same sports and tend to have competitive odds, the features that they have could determine whether or not they win your business. Here, then, are the main features offered by Betfred.
The extent to which betting in-play on live events has revolutionised the betting industry really cannot be over-stated. No longer is gambling online seen as a niche market for those who take their betting really seriously. Instead it’s become one of the main ways of punters getting their bets on, whether using desktop sites or mobile applications. I’m a big fan of live betting, adjusting my bets according to the action taking place in front of me and rolling with the punches that live sport so often throws out.
Betfred know that live betting is über popular, so you can get to their in-play coverage straight from the main page. Along the top of the website you’ll see quick links to things like the Totepool, casino and bingo sections of the site. First and foremost, though, you’ll see a tab for In Play betting. Click on that tab and you’ll be taken to a page with all of the events that you can bet on live at that moment, with each one separated out into sports. Betfred have taken a bit of a punt on which one most punters will want to see first, so football is listed before tennis, then basketball, then cricket and so on.
The sports are broken down further into the competition, so right now I can see that I could bet on an international friendly game, a Brazilian Serie A match, the Swedish Superettan and so on. Next to the match you get the most popular and easy options to bet on as quick links, so with football it’s a chance to bet on the team you think will win or the draw. For sports like basketball and tennis it’s all about the winner outright, with no draw option. What’s nice and helpful is the fact that it also tells you how many other bets there’d be if you click on a specific event.
For example, right now there are 28 further options on the Argentinian Primera Division Reserves match between Lanus Reserves and Estudiantes de La Plata Reserves, 10 more bets on the tennis match at the WTA French Open where Veronica Cepede Royg is taking on Karolina Pilskova, and 2 further bets on the Ice Hockey game between the Nashville Predators and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Obviously those matches are slightly random, but I chose them deliberately to give you a sense of how many different markets there are to bet on. Football is clearly their most loved live sport, but there are plenty of options for even the most discerning of sports fans.
Much as there is an obvious tab to click on when you’re searching for the in-play betting, so too there is a quick link for the ‘Watch Live’ section of the site. It is nice and clean to navigate, which is always helpful when you’re trying to watch a sport live given the degree of immediacy attached to proceedings, with links to the schedule and different sports covered lined up along the top of the page. Football, tennis, basketball, horse racing, greyhound racing, ice hockey, snooker, baseball and more are all streamed live when the licensing allows them to be.
For both horse racing and greyhound racing you’ll need to be logged into your account and have placed a bet of at least £1 if you want to stream the event live. When it comes to the other sports shown online, however, all you need to do is log in to your account and ensure you have a positive bank balance, bearing in mind that free bets don’t count on that front. The system is set up nicely, with a screen at the top of the page to show you what’s happening and all of the ever-changing, constantly updating live betting odds featured further down the page.
Betfred’s Cash Out option works in a similar way to most other bookmakers. If your bet is eligible to be Cashed Out then you’ll see a button allowing you to do just that, with most football, horse racing and golf bets fitting into that category. One of the best uses of Cash Out is on multiple bets, with accumulators often prone to falling apart when you least expect them to. You can have five different selections in your acca and if just one lets you down then it’s curtains for your bet most of the time.
By using the Cash Out option that is offered Betfred you’re giving yourself a chance to win a bit of money or, at the very least, mitigate your losses. Combined with live streaming you could have seen three of your five selections win only for number four to look as if it’s going to go wrong. Use the Cash Out option before the full-time whistle goes and you might just be able to pick up a few quid. Given that some other bookmakers offer tweaks on the format like Partial Cash Out, I do think that Betfred’s offering is a little run-of-the-mill. Whether they add some plays on the option in the future remains to be seen.
Fred and Peter Done are Manchester United fans, with Betfred becoming the first bookie to give an early payout on a bet when they paid punters for United’s ‘title win’ in 1998. The fact that Arsenal went on to actually lift the trophy merely gained them some decent publicity. Anyway, the point is that their ties to football mean that the company knows what it’s talking about when it comes to coverage of the sport.
I’m not a big fan of Betfred’s website, really, and a big part of that is down to the fact that it’s not all that easy to navigate. It’s very ‘busy’ and in order to get to their football coverage from the homepage you have to click firstly on the ‘Sport’ tab at the top of the page, then scroll to find the sport itself. It’s helpful that the current live events are the first ones listed, but if you’re trying to bet on something specific like the FA Cup or a match at the weekend then it takes a wee bit of bumbling around.
There are quick links to top events on the lefthand side of the page, as well as links to specific sports a little further down. Yet the whole thing is far more scruffy and hard work than it really needs to be so I felt like I had to mention it. Of course, what you’re likely interested in is whether or not they cover the matches that you’re going to want to bet on and on that front I have to say that Betfred know what they’re doing. The depth of the market is impressive, with odds offered on leagues that I’ve never even heard of. You can bet on the Norwegian Regionsligaen Avdelling 4, for example, or the Argentinian Primera B Metropolitana.
There is, to be fair, an extent to which these feel like moments of passing interest rather than outright decent market coverage. For example, you can only bet on the result of the Argentina Primera B Metropolitana match between Deportivo Español and Barracas Central. Things aren’t all that much better with the Norwegian Regionsligaen Avdelling 4 game where Varegg are taking on Haugesund 2 only offering six bets on top of choosing the result. Still, considering I don’t know the leagues nor the teams that play in them, I can’t honestly say whether that coverage is as good as fans of it might hope.
Betfred don’t always have the best odds you could possible hope to see on a football match, if I’m totally honest, but they do offer odds that are decent enough to keep you interested. There is, after all, a difference between having the best odds you can find and being well of the pace. You’ll doubtless find that Betfred have the best odds every now and again, especially when it comes to the bigger events, but most of the time they’ll be fairly bog standard. Whether that should affect if you bet with them will likely depend on personal preference and how big the bets are that you’re looking to place.
If Betfred’s horse racing coverage was good prior to 2011 then it went up a notch or two after that year. That’s because that’s when they bought the Tote, the pools betting company specifically for horse racing. It’s fair to say that ever since then they’ve done their best to make sure that Betfred has some of the best racing coverage in the industry.
From excellent ante-post odds through to extra place races via daily specials and long-term offers, Betfred have really upped their horse racing coverage game in recent years. Because they own the Tote they pretty much have to cover every UK race as well as a huge number of those taking place in Ireland. As I’m writing today it’s a wet and miserable Monday afternoon, but you can bet on races from Thirsk, Newton Abbot, Leicester, Windsor, Ayr, Gowran Parka and Listowel as far as racing on these shores are concerned.
Push your betting needs further afield and you’ll find that the international market includes races from Hannover, Club Hipico, Philadelphia, Fingers Lake, Delaware Park and others besides. There’s also a decent market in Virtual Racing covered by the company, though that’s less impressive considering it’s literally made up and they can do what they want. Even so, if you’re looking for a bookmaker that can offer you odds on racing from some of the most far-flung places as well as live streaming of those races then you don’t need to look much further.
Because Betfred has a Best Odds Guarantee you don’t need to worry too much about the price fluctuating. If the Starting Price ends up being longer than the price you took then you’ll get paid out on the SP, as long as you placed your bet in the right period. When it comes to the actual odds themselves, if Betfred don’t have the best odds outright then they’ll normally at least have joint-best odds for most of the horses racing. That is true for most racing, but is especially relevant for UK and Irish meetings.
Betfred’s list of ‘other’ sports covered is a little disappointing, if I’m honest. They’ve made a decision to cover all of the mainstream sports in as comprehensive a way as they could manage, so I suppose sniping about coverage of other sports seems a little churlish. That said, plenty of punters like an unusual bet and if you’re one of them then you might be as disappointed as I was. Here are some the lesser-known sports covered by Betfred:
- American Football
- Gaelic Football
- UFC / MMA
- Australian Rules
As you can see, when you’re including something like American Football as a ‘lesser known’ sport you know you’re scarping the barrel a wee bit. Having said that, they do offer odds on other things such as baseball, basketball and cycling, so it’s not as if they’re doing football and tennis or nothing. I just thought I’d draw your attention to the relative slim pickings in case it was something that really matters to you.
Betfred High Street Betting Shops
Betfred claim that there is a shop on the high street of almost every city and major town throughout the UK. How much truth there is to that claim I’m not sure, but it is true that they own around 1700 shops where you can head to place a bet. They actually call these ‘entertainment destinations’, but punters hoping to place a wager will be a lot more satisfied than those hoping to catch a bit of live music. Betfred claims to be the UK’s fastest growing, independent bookmaker, a fact that might in some part be down to the 2016 acquisition of more than three hundred shops from Ladbrokes and Coral when the two companies merged in 2016.
It’s an impressive growth from a company that didn’t open its first on-street shop until 1967, around six years after it actually became legal to do so. Fred Done approached the betting shop world in a different way to his competitors, most of whom continued the blacked out windows and no frills approach inside the shops that was enforced on them outside as part of the law allowing them on the street at all. Instead of having scruffy looking interiors, Done installed carpet, offered free drinks to punters and called everyone ‘Sir’. It meant the growth of the company was slower than that of his rivals, but by the time he opened his second shop in 1968 he’d earned himself a loyal customer base.
Progress for Betfred was slow, not managing to open his hundredth shop until towards the end of the 1990s. Growth was quicker after the turn of the millennium, however, so by 2005 there were five hundred Betfred shops on UK high streets. In 2011 the company was awarded the contract for The Tote, the totalisator betting system in place at racecourses throughout the country. At that point Done had around 840 shops and things started to move much more quickly for him. By 2016 the company boasted 1400 shops, with the purchase of three hundred from Ladbrokes Coral taking that total to 1700 and making the company one of the biggest presences in bricks and mortar betting shops.
Depositing & Withdrawing In-Store
Much as with other bookmakers that have a strong presence on the high street, Betfred will allow you to deposit and withdraw money from your online account in their shops. It’s a slightly more complex system than the likes of Ladbrokes and Coral, however, as you’re unable to withdraw money in a shop that you deposited into your account online.
If you’re unsure then make sure you either speak to someone in one of the company’s shops or else have a chat with someone online before assuming you’ll be able to move your money around freely. It may not be as smooth as if you were using a different bookie, but it’s still a handy feature to have available to you.
I mentioned in my introduction that one of the ways that Betfred earned themselves a reputation, particularly in the modern era was through gimmickry. I’ve already given one example of that when I said about the company becoming the first bookmaker to pay out on a bet before the result was official, but that’s actually something they’ve done twice. Not only did they pay out on United winning the title before they had in 1998 but they also did it again towards the end of the 2011-2012 season. As a Liverpool supporter I must admit I’m delighted that United lost the title both times… Fred Done pulled a similar trick ahead of the 2004-2005 season when he bet rival bookmaker Victor Chandler that United would finish higher than Chelsea in the Premier League. They didn’t.
The UK-based bookie was formed in Salford back in 1967 in a single bookmaking shop. It has grown exponentially ever since then, with the records stating at the start of 2016 that they owned more than 1300 betting shops throughout the UK. Despite having been formed in Greater Manchester, the company has its head office in the Birchwood district of Warrington. At the time of writing both of the Done brothers are still heavily involved with the company, with Fred Done taking over as CEO from John Haddock when the latter left at the end of 2016. He’d been with the company since 1986 when he was just a regional manager. In other words, the company likes to do things the ‘right way’ with loyal workers and keep it in-house as much as possible.