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Frequently Asked Questions
SP - The Basics
Setting SP Limits
Projected SP Odds
Detailed SP Workings
SP Bet Rules
Changes to Exchange Betting
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What is SP betting?
How do I place a bet at Betfair Starting Price?
Which markets will we offer SP betting on?
Why Betfair Starting Price?
How is the money matched?
Is there a maximum stake for SP bets?

  What is SP betting?

SP is an abbreviation for ‘Starting Price’ and until now has been more widely associated with traditional bookmaking. The method by which SPs are set for each runner varies in different countries. Traditionally in the UK the Starting Price for any horse in any race has been determined by the on-course bookies who determine an aggregate price or odds. Not surprisingly, their Starting Price is edged towards them making a profit.

There has recently been a lot of debate across the industry as to whether this is a fair way of calculating the SP. Many people argue that the SP should account for bets placed on the selection off-course (in betting shops and online) as well.

Betfair’s Starting Price is different. It’s based on bets placed by both backers and layers in any market – there is no margin for profit built in - and that’s why we think it will give you much better odds.

Why Betfair Starting Price?

Unlike other bookmakers’ Starting Price, the Betfair Starting Price will be determined by balancing bets from customers who want to back and lay, so because it’s other customers placing the bets and because there is no margin for profit built in, you are far more likely to have better odds than the bookies’ SP.

The Betfair Starting Price will be calculated exactly to ensure the fairest and most transparent odds possible for both backers and layers. The Betfair Starting Price does not need to account for a profit margin but instead is calculated at the start of an event by looking at the relationship between the amounts of money requested at SP by opposing customers and by looking at unmatched Exchange bets.

How do I place a bet at Betfair Starting Price?

Firstly, you need to have the new ‘Betfair Starting Price’ box ticked above the market view. This will bring up a new column in the market view allowing you to back at SP. If you have the ‘Back & Lay’ box ticked you can also lay your selection at SP. You then just need to click on the relevant box marked “SP” according to which bet you want to place. Clicking the Market Depth box will bring up the white columns indicating the next best prices you would have previously been able to see in the Full View. Leaving all boxes un-ticked shows you the equivalent of the Express View. (Note that when you click on the name of a selection now, it opens up the betting slip to back it. If you want to see the graphs and trading table, you must click on the new graph symbol to the left of the selection.)

When will I know what odds I have been matched at, and my potential winnings?

You will be informed of the odds at which your bets have been matched once the market is turned in-play and the event has started. At this point your bet will be matched against customers who have placed an opposing bet. The actual SP will then be displayed in the middle column on the market as long as you have the “Betfair Starting Price” box ticked above the market.

Your Bet Manager is now split into three colour-coded sections. These are Unmatched Bets, Matched Bets and SP Bets. Any SP bets that were showing in your Bet Manager before the race started will be moved to the Matched Bets section once the race is in-play.

How is the money matched?

The basic principle of matching bets on the Exchange is maintained for SP bets. Backers are matched against layers. In the case of Starting Price bets, we are matching Starting Price backers (who have specified a stake) and Exchange backers with Starting Price layers (who have specified a liability) and Exchange layers.

For further details on this please see SP - Detailed Workings

Which markets will we offer SP betting on?

To start with, we will only offer SP betting on horseracing markets. Moving forward, we plan to offer the SP option on other sports.

What is the minimum stake for an SP bet?

The minimum stake for a back bet at SP is £2 (or the local currency equivalent). The minimum liability if laying is £10 (or the local currency equivalent).

Is there a maximum stake for SP bets?


Who am I betting against at SP?

The party against whom you are betting when you take the SP option is consistent with the main Terms and Conditions that govern your use of the site. For example, if you are a UK customer, then any SP bet you place will be matched against another customer(s). But if you are an Australian customer betting on a non-Australian event, then your counterparty is Betfair.

If I am laying at SP, how will I know how much I am risking?

In a normal Exchange market, if you are laying you are asked to specify the backer’s stake you would like to try to win and your liability is calculated for you.

In contrast when placing an SP lay bet layers are asked to specify a liability (rather than a backer’s stake). This is because the SP won’t be known until the off, so customers have to specify the liability they desire so that we can ensure they have sufficient funds in their account to pay the backers we match them with should the selection go on to win. Backers and layers at SP will therefore not know how much they could win until the start of the event. Backers at SP specify their stake as normal and this amount will reduce their “available to bet” balance as usual.

How are the bets being settled and when?

Once the reconciliation process has taken place, SP bets are just like normal matched Exchange bets. They will be settled along with every other matched bet

Is it linked to the Exchange, and how?

All available money at the time is balanced to determine a fair price. This includes customers who have elected to back or lay at SP and any unmatched Exchange demand.

For further details on this please see SP – Detailed Workings

Does Betfair see what is happening with the SP bets ?

The process of determining the SP takes place in the short period of time between the race being suspended and the race going in-play. During that period no one at Betfair has any influence in how the price is determined. No one at Betfair has access to any privileged information on SP markets.

How can Betfair guarantee to match a £50k SP bet?

In order to match that amount of money at 1.01, we would only need £500 of layers’ liability. Unless the selection is genuinely a 1.01 chance there is a very high probability that there will be enough layers to guarantee a match. However, we don’t guarantee a price. In practice though a large amount of money placed to back at SP will be likely to result in a price projection that is attractive to layers, and vice versa.

Will there be unmatched SP bets if the money isn’t there?

In theory, there could be unmatched SP bets.  We don’t actually guarantee a match. But this would only happen if the price is 1.01 or 1000 – the two extremes of our SP. If 1.01 were the final SP, then some backers might be unmatched. If 1000 were the final SP, then some layers will be unmatched. However, we expect this to be very rare.

What are SP odds limits?

SP odds limits is a new feature that allows you to specify either the minimum odds you are prepared to accept for an SP bet, for back bets, or the maximum odds you are prepared to offer for a lay bet. Traditional bookmakers don’t offer this type of bet, but Betfair has created an SP system that will. You just need to select the set odds limit option when placing the SP bet and specify the minimum acceptable odds for back bets or the maximum acceptable odds for lay bets. If the Betfair SP falls outside the limits specified, stakes are returned and the bet is not matched. This enables Betfair to calculate the minimum profit you will make on the selection if the result goes in your favour.

SP Backers Min Profit Calculation
(Min Odds – 1) x Stake = min profit

SP Layers Min Profit Calculation
Liability / (Max odds – 1) = Min Profit

See the Setting SP Limits section for further details.

If I specify a limit on an SP bet and the calculated SP is equal to my limit am I guaranteed to be matched?

No. To include all SP limit bets which have a limit exactly equal to the SP in the reconciliation process and match them could result in an imbalance between backers and layers. Therefore where an SP is calculated that is exactly equal to backers’ and/or layers’ limit SP bets none, some or all of those bets may be included. In this event SP limit bets with identical limit prices will be matched on a first come, first served basis as is the convention in Betfair’s Exchange markets. Lay bets with a higher limit and back bets with a lower limit will definitely be matched.

Why does my profit & loss not reflect my SP bets?

The profit and loss will only reflect your SP bets once the event has started and the bets have matched at the Starting Price.

The projected profit and loss cannot be displayed using the ‘what if’ feature within ‘More Options’ because there is no price upon which to base the calculation at this stage.

What changes will I see in market view?

If you are an existing customer who gets the current ‘Full View’ you will get the equivalent of the Full View (Back & Lay and Market Depth selected). Similarly, if you get the ‘Express View’ you will again get the equivalent (no checkboxes selected). 

Any changes to your preferences will be stored.

Can I request to ‘Take SP’ on an unmatched lay bet if my liability is less than £10? (Minimum liability)

Yes, but at the off if the liability on the bet is less than £10 the bet will be cancelled and will not be included in the SP reconciliation.

For example:  As an Exchange layer I decide to lay a horse for £5 @ 2.0. It is trading at 3.0 so my bet is unmatched. I then request to ‘Take SP’ at the off if my bet is still unmatched at 2.0. The system will allow this request but if unmatched at the off it will lapse.  Also, if a customer for example asks to lay £50 at 1.5, convert to SP if unmatched, and £40 gets taken leaving £10 lay at 1.5 the balance will cancel at the off. It will not convert into an SP lay bet as the revised balance at the off was less than the minimum £10 liability allowed for SP bets.

Can I place SP bets on your Multiples product?

No. There is no immediate plan to offer SP betting across Multiples.

What is the commission rate payable when betting at SP?

We have no plans to charge to apply a different commission structure to SP bets than that charged with conventional exchange bets.. In detail, the pricing calculation is performed as follows: SP bets become matched bets once the reconciliation has been performed at the start of the event with commission charged on a customer’s net winnings in each market. The commission on SP bets will therefore be calculated in exactly the same way as normal Exchange bets.

Can I cancel or amend my SP bet?

It is not possible for you to cancel a bet you have placed on the site at SP. This is so that we can provide an estimate of the Starting Price based on money committed to betting at SP. If bets could be cancelled, this estimate could be manipulated by placing a large bet and then cancelling it. If, however, you have an unmatched Exchange bet with the option “Take SP” selected you can still cancel this up until the time of the off.

If you have specified a limit on your SP back bet you can reduce the minimum odds you are prepared to accept. If you have specified a limit on your lay SP bet you can increase the maximum odds you are prepared to offer. You will not be allowed to increase the odds on a limit SP back bet, or reduce the odds on a limit SP lay bet as this would allow customers to amend their bets to levels that would be highly unlikely to be matched, which would have the same effect as cancelling which is not allowed, as explained above.

Can SP bets be placed using Betfair Mobile?

Not currently…but watch this space!

Are my SP bets highlighted in Current Bets, Betting History and on My Statement?

Yes. Your bets will show in Current Bets at SP along with any odds limit you may have set.

Will the new functionality affect Multiples / Coupons / Line / Range or Asian Handicap betting?

No. You will see no changes to the market views at all and will still see the old Express & Full Views where relevant. This currently only affects odds markets.

What does the functionality under “Coupons Pages” in More Options allow me to do?

These options will not appear in More Options unless a Coupon is selected on screen. This is what the options are with a brief description of what they do.

  • Display stake selector = Displays a stake selector in the market header.
  • Display best prices only = Displays the best prices for each selection.
  • Display averaged odds = Displays prices averaged around the values specified by the customer in the stake selector.

What happens to my SP bet if there is a subsequent non-runner?

Please refer to the SP Bet Rules section.

What can I do with an unmatched bet in SP markets?

By default unmatched bets ‘lapse’ and are cancelled at the start of the event.

You can still choose for this to happen if you wish, and unmatched bets will have “cancel” as their default. However we have added two new alternative options:

  1. You can choose to “Keep” the bet once the market turns in-play if it is not matched prior to the off. This provides another opportunity to get your bet matched, although there is still no guarantee you will be matched as the price may never reach the level you have requested.
  2. You can also choose to convert your unmatched Exchange bet to an SP bet if it remains unmatched at the off by selecting the “Take SP” option.

Please note again that you can cancel an unmatched Exchange bet as normal, whichever option you have chosen.

Also see the Changes to Exchange Betting (Non SP bets) section.


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