The Melbourne Cup spring racing carnival is pushing the IT shops of Australia’s betting agencies to the limit, but online bookmaker Betfair took a punt on mobile betting and is winning big.
The Australian arm of the world’s largest Internet betting exchange, Betfair, is taking the rush to bet on the nation’s biggest horse race in its stride with a fleet of Sun severs ready to absorb the spike in traffic to the site.
While TABs across the country have urged punters to bet early, Betfair IT manager Paul Moss said the company’s backend systems will have no problem withstanding the estimated 2500 hits a second the site will receive in the lead-up to the “Race that Stops a Nation”.
“We over-engineer things on purpose because we encounter sporting anomalies that cause an influx of hits, such as when Federer lost the [Australian Open] semi-finals,” Moss said.
“We base our systems on peak [usage], so we only need to check that everything is ticking over today. But we are expecting sizeable hits.
“Today is the biggest because we get a lot of Joe Punters mixing with the professionals.”
Punters can take their iPhones and PDAs trackside to compare odds between Betfair — which uses the decimal, rather than fractional system - to the TABs and bookmakers using its mobile portals.
Betfair’s model can undercut the fractional odds used by TABs by as much as 50 per cent for speculative punts — and up to 20 per cent for safer bets - because it links punters in an exchange and cuts out the bookies mark-up.
“It is a convenient way of checking the markets down at Flemington that allows them to get the best odds,” Moss said.
About half of Betfair’s traffic for the Melbourne Cup comes from overseas punters via the Web site, while the remainder use a mix of local mobile, Web and telephone channels.
Betfair’s backend is made up of three 24-way Sun E6900 servers running Oracle, 55 AMD Opteron Sun x86 middle tier severs and Cisco network infrastructure with a Citrix Netscaler load balancer. It runs Linux on its Web tier and Red Hat Enterprise 4 with the JBoss J2EE middleware for 25 of the Opteron servers.