Peer-to-peer betting, the precursor to a betting exchange, was first released in the UK by Flutter.com in May 2000. Soon after, UK-based Betfair launched what it originally called “open-market betting”, in June 2000 – a name which was quickly changed, by the media and the associated industry, to “betting exchange”. Betfair embraced an exchange model, but it took a year before Flutter adopted a similar technology. Though Flutter managed to climb to a reported 30% market share, Flutter’s backers were content to broker a merger which left Betfair the dominant partner by a reported ratio of 84:16. Post merger, Flutter’s customers were transferred to Betfair’s system, which was later upgraded to embrace some of Flutter’s functionality. Betfair has maintained from that point a dominant marketshare and controls a reported 90% of global exchange activity today.
As with other types of exchanges, betting exchanges thrive on liquidity and customers tend to focus on the exchange where they are confident their bet can be paired up with a matching counterbet. Breaking with British tradition, Betfair uses decimal odds instead of fractional (traditional) odds because they are more popular globally.