Conor Mills | Freelance Automotive and Travel Journalist

Freelance Automotive and Travel Journalist

Feature: High-tech trading

Posted by Admin On January - 1 - 2008

Watching Richard Redmond, a five-week veteran of the Canary Wharf Sports Exchange, close out a three-figure profit for the second race in row, you can see why this new style of sports betting is growing fast. “It’s all about hand-eye coordination and timing,” said Redmond, sitting back in his chair after making an average weekly salary in just 10 minutes.

Following three months of beta testing, Canary Wharf Sports Exchange (CWSE) has just had its official launch, and in its short history has proven to be a huge a success with its customers. A cross between a Las Vegas-style sportsbook and the London Stock Exchange, this revolutionary new way of online sports betting has really made its mark.

The brainchild of Gary Smolinski and pro poker player Richard Redmond, CWSE is the latest of a new wave of online sportsbooks to hit the UK. “We wanted to create an environment that was comfortable, discreet, and genuinely entertaining,” explained Redmond. Currently the largest in-running trading room and betting exchange in the UK, the idea is that you trade prices on sports in a similar way that you would trade shares in the stock market. The markets are obtained from the Betfair website, so backing and laying options are offered on virtually every sport, but at CWSE, there are also opportunities to explore more advanced strategies, with frequent trading, dutching, bookmaking, and arbitrage situations commonplace.

In-running betting is still a relatively new concept within the betting industry, but exchange companies like Betfair and Betdaq have helped popularise it to the extent that it is now available in high-street bookmakers. It is in this from of betting that CWSE truly stands out from its competitors. With typically more than £1 million traded on each horse race throughout the day, this liquid market is the hunting ground for the majority of CWSE’s traders. Since its launch, Betfair has been very enthusiastic about the venture. “They were delighted that we are not only providing them business, but, in many cases, creating markets for them,” commented Redmond.

After speaking to several of these traders, it is easy to see why in-running betting is so advantageous and offers so much potential. Betting in-running allows a punter to enter an event when he wants, waiting until he thinks the time is right before placing any bets giving. This gives much greater control, and any pre-race mistakes or bad positions can be corrected or minimised once the market turns in-running.

Trading Places
In just over seven years, since betting exchanges were first introduced, the consistent winners have not been the backers or layers, but the people trading the markets. This style of betting has completely changed the way people bet on sports. Professional traders in their late teens are now making six-figure, tax-free salaries, and gone are the days when traders had to graduate from the best universities to be successful. Using appropriate strategies and discipline, a new and modern group of diverse users is showing how it is now possible for anyone to become a profitable trader.

CWSE’s unique selling point is its combination of advanced technology, live television feeds, and comfortable surroundings; it’s the Wall Street equivalent for the everyday sports bettor. Workstations are available for either £10 per hour or £50 for the whole day. For this, you receive a 15-inch flat-screen TV, a 19-inch monitor with cube (compact PC), and a set of personal headphones, giving you all of the latest sports commentary. “Our customers travel from all over the country to use the best possible facilities available to them,” said co-owner Smolinski. With fiber-optic cable recently installed, the Internet now reaches speeds of up to 120Mbps download and 30Mbps upload to each individual station – the same speeds used by NASA!

These cables are provided to the premises through their own pipe, meaning no risk of signal problems or loss. With more than 120 live sports channels available, four 50-inch and 16 32-inch flat-screen TVs, this place is a sports enthusiast’s dream, showcasing the best live events the world has to offer at that particular time. Also included in this package is the SIS network, a collection of channels that broadcasts all major UK horse and dog meetings at a feed that’s two seconds faster than any terrestrial or sky channel. This means that at CWSE, you can be backing a horse that’s just jumped the last fence and gone three lengths clear at a price of 1.30 for hundreds of pounds while the rest of the country is still lagging behind.

Extra! Extra! … Read All About It
For an extra £5 a month, customers are given the option of buying a programme called Betting Assistant (www.gruss-software.co.uk), an add-on for Betfair. It transforms the standard betting exchange interface into a powerful trading tool. The programme offers many useful features, including one-click betting, which enables bets to be entered into the market instantaneously, the ability to level out profits evenly over all runners at any stage before or during an event, and a weight of money calculator that provides an in-depth analysis of the direction in which the market is moving.

First-time users can expect £25 credit in their account plus free tuition and insight from helpful and experienced traders. Long-term users can also expect “good discounts for extended bookings, corporate membership at the London Golf Club, a box at a Premiership soccer club, and golf tuition.” There is waitress service available, which offers soft drinks and food, and there are two gaming machines on hand if you fancy a quick punt.

The “co-owned” City Bunker (www.citybunker.co.uk) is located directly next door, and at any stage during the day, if you need a break from the stressful world of trading, you can enjoy a host of facilities, including an indoor driving range with on-hand PGA professional, a collection of console systems playable on 10-foot-by-10-foot screens, and a spacious lounge and bar area. “It really helps break the day up,” said Redmond. It is also worth noting that on Monday evenings, the venue becomes the Poker Bunker, currently hosting several short poker academy series, whose teachers so far have included top poker pros like Marc Goodwin, Ram Vaswani, and Phil Ivey.

It is hard to find fault with the enterprising creators of CWSE, and after witnessing the adrenaline ride of a full day’s trading, it looks as though the company seems set for the future, and with 60 more workstations and an executive high-stakes lounge on the agenda for the new year, watch this space.

Canary Wharf Sports Exchange is located in the Canon workshops between Canary Wharf and Westferry DLR tube stations. It is open Mondays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. More details can be found at www.canarywharfsports.com.

Publication: Cardplayer

Original online version: Click here

Original print version: Part 1, Part 2