The Great Void Debate

With Betfair crashing all over the place this afternoon, the cries of outrage were inevitable, particularly from those who where stung thanks to a large liability that they couldn't get out of.

So, in the event of Betfair's systems crashing, should Betfair void all bets on open markets affected by the crash?

This is a difficult one where it is impossible to satisfy everyone. As a trader, I'd want the bets cancelled if it meant I was caught in a position I couldn't get out of. Conversely, as a punter, I'd be livid if I'd stuck £10 on a 1000.0 shot that was first past the finishing line and my bet was subsequently made void. I'd expect you would be too and I fully understand that.

Still, I tend to fall on the side of the 'void' camp. Better for everyone not to lose money than a lucky few gaining at the expense of others when the blame does not lie at their door.

The blame obviously must lie with Betfair in that they need to improve their redundancy and backup systems. They are custodians of their customers' money. They should be taking better care of it. That's not to say I do not appreciate the complexity of the computer systems required to process the amount of transactions that you and I are placing on their systems.

Part of the problem also lies in the inconsistent way Betfair treat 'issues' across various markets. For example, in the greyhounds, if there is a late withdrawal, the market is suspended and ALL bets are voided. Unlike the horses, there is no reduction factor, so if you have backed the eventual winner, tough!

This example is loosely analogous to what we saw today. Granted, a dog withdrawal is hardly the fault of Betfair and it affects significantly fewer Betfairians than a system wide crash. However, my point is that a complete voiding of a market can be, and is, done when circumstances dictate. All of us who get involved in the greyhound market know that such things can happen. It's written in the rules of the market.

So why can it not be applied across all markets when a major system crash occurs?

The fact of the matter is Betfair are highly unlikely to change how they do things just now. Consequently, it is incumbent upon each of us who use Betfair to protect ourselves by funding other exchanges and bookmakers so that we have the opportunity to bale out in an emergency.

What do you think?

1 comment:

The Millionaire Fund said...

I think the main problems come from Betfair refusing to take the site down once it becomes obvious a crash is due. I was having problems retreiving data from the website early in the day but the API was fine at the time. I guess it's a fine balance though as plenty of times the site seems to be heading for meltdown but recovers without the need to take it down.

As for voiding it's cut and dry on the greyhounds a non runner can have a drastic effect on the outcome of the race and Betfair don't have any reduction factor or SP to fall back on unlike the bookies who either settle at SP or apply the usual r4 reductions. And to be fair this isn't inconsistent just a different market with it's own rules that are applied consistently.

For racing this isn't a 'traders only' site and any bets pre off whenever they were placed have to stand and it's up to users to manage their own liabilities and you can't expect punters to lose out cos some trader couldn't close in running. I've always said these things can go equally against or for you longterm and as soon as you place that initial bet you have to be prepared to lose it. Yesterday it went in my favour but in the past it hasn't , swings and roundabouts, just need to be aware these things happen and will.

I've found betfair are now consistent in their approach to markets not going in-play, crashes etc and it makes life as a trader a lot easier now we know the rules we're playing by, rather than their previous approach of keeping favoured users happy and fuck the rest.