A gentle introduction to the Betfair API
Level 3 - WAGMI
Welcome Degen Gambler!
Betfair is a British gambling company which operates the world's largest online betting exchange. Betting exchanges are important factors in the betting industry since they’re offering more serious actors/bettors a way to participate in betting markets without having to deal with the ordinary, in many cases absolutely terrible, bookmaker model which restricts/limits any sharp action [in fact, standard bookmakers are probably closer to “marketing companies” than they are to “betting companies”]. Owing to this, the exchanges attract a great amount of clever customers which in turn generates liquid order books and significant betting volume.
With a satisfactory share of sharp volume these platforms have evolved into some of the most efficient and informative ones currently available, hence providing an excellent opportunity for aspiring bettors to learn the fundamentals [and more] of how to price uncertainty.
To understand the basics of the betting exchange model, consult our Betting 101.
Note: “Liquid order books and significant betting volume” depends on the specific markets you’re looking at as well as who you’re asking. The point: mostly it’s much better than what’s offered with standard bookies.
Note: There is often hidden liquidity [iceberg orders, see e.g. The impact of hidden liquidity in limit order books, Frey, Sandås] on the exchanges [market books convey information → information affects prices → market participants prefer hiding their intentions and present incomplete information to others → participants send partial orders programmatically instead of huge orders at once] which means you’ll only observe parts of the *real* order book.
Today we’ll familiarize ourselves with the basics of the Betfair API, an API that allows us to retrieve both historical and current betting data in order to learn from and analyze one of the most efficient betting markets, the Betfair Exchange, out there. Furthermore, the API offers all the necessary tools to create and automate betting strategies, i.e. build and launch betting bots.
Access to the Betfair API is restricted to Betfair customers only. For full access [ability to place bets etc.] you’ll therefore have to be a resident in one of the many EU countries in which Betfair is operating. However, we’ve figured out a way for our US subscribers to get partial access [retrieve odds, analyze historical betting data, …] by setting up “dummy accounts” and we believe that should be good enough for 99 % of our subscribers at this point in time.