ExtraBet Interview with Jeremy Scott, head of PR

ExtraBet: Binary Betting, Fixed Odds and Spread Betting Operations

FSB: In a nutshell what is ExtraBet? Our understanding is that you offer spread betting, fixed-odds betting and binary betting all under one roof. Please expand. Do you cover both sports and financial markets?

Jeremy, Extrabet: Extrabet is the sports arm of financial spread betting giant IG Group. We are the only betting company to offer a comprehensive service of sports spread betting, sports fixed-odds betting, binary betting, and an online casino on one platform.

FSB: ExtraBet is a division of IG Group and replaces what was known as IG Sport. When did you launch IG Sport (1993?) and ExtraBet?

Jeremy: IG Index began offering sports spread betting in the early 1990’s. In 2006 ExtraBet was launched offering sports fixed-odds only service to compliment the sports spread betting offering of IG Index and sister company binarybet.com which offered sports binaries. In March 2008 there was a rebrand and a website re-launch which saw all three offerings falling under the one banner of extrabet

FSB: How big is ExtraBet? How many people do you employ? Do you operate from the same office as IG Index?

Jeremy: Extrabet is a phone/internet betting operation which does not have a high street presence. We employ in the region of 50 staff and operate from separate office to that of IG Index.

FSB: Why the re-branding from Binarybet to ExtraBet? And what was the reason that you decided to integrate IG Sport into the mix as well?

Jeremy: While all the sport prices were derived from the same group of traders and the in-running service was driven by the same trading engine, the fact was there were three separate sites for the sports offerings of the IG Group. Thus, when the technology became available it seemed only sensible to offer all three products on the one site with a casino. This would also allow for more effective cross selling of the three bet offerings.

IG Index (indeed IG as a brand) had long been associated with financial spread betting, so while the new site was being launched the opportunity was also taken to rebrand the product giving it a moniker which disassociated it somewhat from financial spread betting.

FSB: Tell us about your platform. Has your sports spread betting and binary platform been developed in-house?

Jeremy: Yes, all the development work with sports betting has been done in house. As mentioned before ExtraBet is one of only two firms which offer the full service of sports spread betting, sports fixed-odds betting and sports binary betting with a single wallet, but of the two has the far more comprehensive offerings.

Extrabet is also unique in that it values a clients bet in-running allowing clients to close their position early to take a profit or cut a loss.

FSB: You basically offer different types of bets on the same events on a common site. How has been the client response? How strong is demand with fixed-odds betting where you can close out before the expiry date?

Jeremy: Clients have welcomed the new platform and we’ve had a successful push on cross selling of the products which has seen an increase in clients who had traditionally been loyal to one type of bet trying another. Our ‘Take it Now’ function mentioned above has proved to be a welcoming addition to the extrabet armory especially now the function can be applied not only to single bets, but to multiple bets too.

FSB: What markets do you cover? I understand that you tend to focus on the UK’s mainstream betting market so the big events and sports you cover are designed to meet mainstream sports bettors’ needs and wants – aside from financials, football and horse racing – what other markets do you offer?

Jeremy: All financial markets are now offered by IG Index, extrabet is purely a sports and casino only business. We offer a diverse range of markets across a host of sports. In addition to the obvious we trade Spanish, Italian, German, Russian, Dutch and Japanese football matches when live. Baseball, NFL, Ice Hockey, Basketball, nearly all ATP and WTA tennis events and overseas cricket. We also offer special markets on the likes of Big Brother, Strictly Come Dancing, I’m a Celebrity and the like.

FSB: What events do you cover in football matches? Do you cover any novelty markets?

Jeremy: We trade over 200 markets in-running during live football matches. You can bet on anything from the number of corners in a match to the time of the first goal to the margin of victory.

FSB: How easy is your platform to use in practice? What are its strong points?

Jeremy: Despite offering a vast amount of markets, navigating the ExtraBet platform is relatively simple to use. Each sport is divided down into events and when you’ve drilled through to the market you want you can then flick between the spread price, the fixed-odds price, and the binary price. There is a betting guide on the site explaining and giving examples of the different offerings and a comprehensive help and support section.

FSB: Do you offer telephone betting? In what currencies can client’s bets? Are there any deposit or withdrawal fees (especially concerning credit cards)?

Jeremy: Yes, although most of the betting traffic comes through the internet we do have a bet-taking team offering a telephone betting service.

We take bets in Sterling, US Dollars and Euros. There is no withdrawal fee for any credit or debit cards. There is, however, a deposit fee of 1.75% of the amount deposited that day for all credit card payments of £1000 or more.

FSB: Tell us about your In-Running and ‘Take it Now’ offerings. How does that work?

Jeremy: We value a bet throughout the duration of an in-running event allowing the client to close early should they wish. For example say a client had had £10 on Manchester Utd to beat Chelsea 4-2 at 16-1. The most the bet can even be worth if it comes in is £170 (£160 winnings plus £10 stake returned).

After 85 minutes Man Utd are 4-2 up but Chelsea are down to nine men and Utd look likely to get a fifth which will scupper your bet completely. You look and see that we currently value your bet at £113. You can take that now and enjoy the rest of the game OR sit it out knowing another goal for either team means you being returned nothing. Your choice!

FSB: Tell us about your online casino?

Jeremy: Our online casino offers a comprehensive range of games, with a £100 first deposit bonus and loyalty rewards.

ExtraBet: Binary Betting Practicalities

FSB: Tell us how 0-100 binary betting works.

Jeremy, Extrabet: As the name suggests a binary bet can only have two outcomes, an event occurs or an event does not occur. So whereby betting fixed odds on a football match for example there are three outcomes – team A wins, team B wins or it’s a draw, with binary betting there are two outcomes for each of these three options.

Market one is: Team A wins/Team A does not win

Market two is: The Match is a draw/the match is not a draw

Market three is: Team B wins/Team B does not win

If an event happens the binary market is settled at 100, if the event does not happen it is settled at 0. Thus there are always two price with a binary bet. So for example Arsenal to beat Aston Villa might be priced at 44 – 50. If you think Arsenal will beat Aston Villa you ‘buy’ or go high at 50. If you think Arsenal will not beat Aston Villa (Villa will win or it’ll be a draw) you go low at 44. Staking with binary betting is more akin to spread betting in that it is leveraged product (albeit within a set range of 0-100). Thus if you think Arsenal will win and ‘buy’ the binary at 50 for £1 a point – if Arsenal do win the market will make-up at 100 and you’ll make the difference between the level at which you bought (50) and the level the market made up (100) multiplied by your stake. So 100-50=50x£1=£50. If Arsenal lose the market makes up at 0 and you would lose the difference between the level at which you bought (50) and the level the market made-up at (0) multiplied by your stake, so again £50 but this time a loss.

Alternately you might have thought Arsenal would not win and ‘sold’ them at 44 for £1. If the game ends in a draw or Villa win you’d make £44 (difference between level at which you sold and the level the market made-up multiplied by £1 (your stake.)) However if you ‘sold’ Arsenal and the Gunners did go on to win you’d lose £56 (difference between level at which you sold and the level the market made-up (100) multiplied by your stake).

FSB: Do you offer binaries on both financials and sports?

Jeremy: Extrabet offers only sport binaries.

FSB: What kind of binary bets do you offer? Briefly describe the different type of binary options on offer.

Jeremy: Sports binaries only but across a range of markets, if you think of it as a ‘yes’/’no’ bet it works on anything – Arsenal to beat Aston Villa 3-2 y/n, over 2.5 goals in the match y/n. There is always a two way price available. If it happens it makes up 100 if it doesn’t it makes up 0.

FSB: Can clients sell bets back to you before the actual expiry date?

Jeremy: No matter if you have a sports spread bet, a sports fixed-odds bet, or a sports binary bet, we offer clients a live in-running valuation allowing them to close the position whenever they wish.

FSB: Is it possible to set a stop-loss?

Jeremy: Although not actually stop losses, binary bets operate with the scale of 0-100. They cannot make-up more than 100 and they cannot make-up less than 0.

FSB: So, I can still profit from a falling market using binary betting right?

Jeremy: As far as sports betting goes, provided you’ve gone the right way (‘bought’ and the event is now more likely to happed or ‘sold’ and the event is now less likely to happen) you can take a profit.

FSB: Is there some kind of simulation platform or betting guide that clients can use to familiarize themselves with the different aspects of your binary products?

Jeremy: There is a betting guide on the extrabet site which explains and gives examples of spread betting and binary betting.

FSB: To whom do you think your binary and spread betting offerings appeal most? Why should clients join ExtraBet?

Jeremy: Obviously the two products lend themselves well to players of financial markets who are more used to the format. However, we’ve done a lot over recent years to expand the appeal of these products. For instance, we have reduced the minimum bet sizes and for spread betting, we have built in automated stop losses while at the same time do not have built in stop wins so you’re winnings are unlimited.

FSB: Please describe your typical client. How sophisticated do you need to be to get involved?

Jeremy: See above, part of the beauty of our offerings is we have a diverse client base and appeal to all from the sophisticated punter to the social bettor.

FSB: Which are proving to be the most popular markets/bets?

Jeremy: Unlike the main High Street firms where Horse Racing still rules the roost, football is the most popular market with extrabet.com, especially now there is so much of the sport shown on the TV. However each sport comes in to its own during the year, cricket during the Ashes, golf during the majors and the Ryder Cup, tennis during the majors, rugby union during the six nations/autumn internationals/World Cup, snooker during the World Cup etc…

FSB: What are the risks?

Jeremy: Spread betting is a leveraged product and as with all leveraged products can result in losses that exceed your initial stake. Clients should endure they fully understand the risks involved. We support responsible gaming.

ExtraBet Offering

FSB: How do the binaries compare to your spread betting offerings? What are the relative advantages of each?

Jeremy, Extrabet: Binaries and spread bets have a number of common features and work in similar ways to a point. One key difference is because binaries work on the 0-100 scale you always know exactly what the most you can win or lose is, whereas spread betting tends to be more volatile and the potential wins and losses can be greater (although stop losses are applied to markets).

FSB: Do you limit stake sizes? In the past we have read criticisms of ExtraBet severely limiting stake sizes. Please comment.

Jeremy: Bookmaking is the art of making a book, not as some people believe simply laying a bet. Thus like all firms we have risk guidelines and will when necessary limit clients or change prices as we see fit. Sports betting is a leisure service, a battle of minds between market maker and punter but a handful of clients will only play our markets when there is an arbitrage opportunity with another firm, this is not good business and these clients will be restricted in the size of bets they are able to have.

FSB: Are gains/winnings taxable? How are you regulated?

Jeremy: All winnings from ExtraBet are tax free. Our spread betting offering is regulate by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) the other products by the Gambling Commission.

FSB: How is business? My understanding is that your sports fixed-odds and spread betting business suffered in 2008/2009 due to the economic downturn.

Jeremy: As with all businesses the economic downturn in 2008/09 impacted on our business, however we remodeled ourselves and our business plan and if the World Cup this year can be used as a gauge the punters appetite for betting is back, and while that remains so will we.

FSB: What does the future hold for ExtraBet? Tell us about your ‘custom’ bets.

Jeremy: The future is bright! This year we launched our iPhone and mobile services which were well received and we are currently working on our each way service and most exciting of all ‘pick your own’ in-running multiples allowing clients to use the ‘Take it Now’ feature across a number of events. (In-running multiples already exists but not as a ‘pick your own’ service).

FSB: Have you any parting words for our readers?

Jeremy: Be lucky!

FSB: Thank you for your insight and time, Mr. Jeremy Scott

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