The Rise and Fall of Betfair’s Zero Lounge

Screenshots of Betfair Zero Lounge

Some gamblers do whatever they can to improve their chances of beating casino games. They study strategy, look for the right games, and exercise bankroll management.

At the end of the day, though, players are almost always at the mercy of the house edge. Nearly every bet in the casino gives the house an advantage.

But years ago, Betfair offered a unique proposition called the “Zero Lounge.” The latter was named for the fact that its games didn’t carry a house edge.

Unfortunately, the Zero Lounge is no longer around today. You can read about what it was like during its glory days and if there’s anything like it now.

What Was the Zero Lounge?

Betfair launched as a betting exchange in 1999. It quickly attracted customers thanks to its unique concept of exchange betting.

Aside from offering exchange wagering, Betfair eventually opened an online casino. The Zero Lounge was found within Betfair’s online casino.

It promised gamblers something totally new—the ability to wager without a house edge. Zero Lounge soon became yet another draw to Betfair.

And it offered several popular games that put players on equal footing with the house. In doing so, it was quite original compared to the numerous online casinos that hold an advantage with every game.

Why Did the Zero Lounge Become Popular?

Online gambling sites are careful not to give themselves a tremendous edge. They’d see fewer and fewer players if they rapidly took everybody’s bankroll.

Nevertheless, online casinos do hold some type of edge on each game/bet. They need this advantage to ensure that they make long-term profits and are able to pay the bills.

With that said, industry peers must’ve thought that Betfair was crazy when they launched the Zero Lounge. For the first time ever, an internet casino was willing to forgo the house edge.

Players who highly value winning were quick to visit this online lounge. They suddenly found themselves with a chance to basically flip a coin with the casino.

Of course, one still needs a little luck to win profits even in the absence of a house edge. The Zero Lounge insured, though, that players could theoretically break even when they didn’t win.

Betfair Games That Didn’t Feature a House Edge

As I’ll discuss more in-depth later, not every Betfair casino game lacked a house advantage. Instead, only the following selection was part of the lounge.

Zero Baccarat

The banker bet in baccarat provides the strongest chance to win. It only carries a 1.06% house edge. This wager would normally give you the advantage, but casinos take 5% commissions out of wins.

Zero baccarat, however, only collected a 2.8% commission from winning banker bets. Betfair tinkered with the commission just enough that it eliminated the house edge.

All you needed to do was wager on the banker’s hand again and again to enjoy 100% RTP.

Zero Blackjack

The blackjack house edge can vary greatly based on where you play. Depending upon the rules, it carries anywhere between a 0.3% and 2.0% house advantage.

Betfair’s Zero Lounge offered very player-friendly rules that reduced the house edge to nothing. The kicker was that both a five-card 21 and suited natural blackjack paid 2:1 (instead of 3:2 or 6:5).

Zero Roulette

A normal roulette game features one or two zero pockets. These pockets favor the casino on bets.

Here’s the breakdown of the roulette odds. The European version (one zero) features a 2.70% house edge. The American wheel (zero and double zero) carries a 5.26% house advantage.

Betfair eliminated the zero from its wheel and, thus, the house edge. You didn’t have to use any skill with this game to enjoy 100% payback.

Zero Video Poker

Jacks or Better video poker is often one of the best-paying games in the casino. The 9/6 paytable only carries a 0.46% house edge with optimal strategy.

The 9/6 version normally pays 800 coins, per credit wagered, for a royal flush. If you bet 5 credits, for example, then you can win 4,000 coins with the royal.

Betfair’s zero version paid an abstract 976 coins for a royal. This non-conventional payout was enough to push the house edge to 0%.

Betfair Slots Weren’t Included

As seen above, slot machines weren’t available in The Zero Lounge. Instead, they were part of the regular Betfair casino.

Unlike the games covered earlier, slots don’t require skill. Therefore, Betfair didn’t just want to offer a bunch of luck-based games without a house edge.

Furthermore, online casinos make the bulk of their money through slots. Providing these games for free would’ve been a bad business decision.

Of course, Betfair did include roulette in their Zero Lounge. Roulette doesn’t involve much skill to win with either. Then again, it’s not quite as popular as online slots.

Players Still Needed Optimal Strategy in Some Cases

Continuing off the point above, Betfair wasn’t keen on providing luck-based games at true odds. They wanted players to work for the 0% house edge.

The only exception was zero roulette. As explained earlier, this game would’ve been your best option to enjoy true odds without thinking too much.

Zero baccarat was another good option if you weren’t a skilled gambler. You only had to place the banker bet over and over to reduce the house edge to nothing.

Online Blackjack

Blackjack and video poker, meanwhile, do involve extensive strategy. They both call on you to make important decisions on every hand.

If you wanted to achieve 100% RTP with these Zero Lounge games, you obviously needed a great command of strategy. Otherwise, you would be facing a house advantage.

Of course, Betfair counted on people playing less than perfect to some extent. Not everybody is a blackjack or video poker expert.

Betfair Shut Down the Zero Lounge in 2013

The Zero Lounge was no doubt a draw to Betfair. As with many good things, though, it eventually came to an end.

Betfair closed the Zero Lounge in 2013. It then continued on with its normal house-friendly casino games.

As a premier exchange, Betfair still remains highly popular. It continues drawing both sports and casino gamblers.

The days of the Zero Lounge, though, are long gone. There will probably never be another online casino that rolls out games like this.

Is There Anything Like the Zero Lounge Today?

If you missed the Zero Lounge before 2013, then you probably won’t ever see anything like it again. Nevertheless, you can enjoy casino games/bets that don’t feature a house edge to some extent.

Craps is the easiest way to enjoy gaming without facing a house edge—at least with the odds bets. These wagers pay at your true odds of winning.

To begin placing them, you first need to make a pass line or don’t pass line bet. Once a point number is established, you can back either bet with odds.

Craps Dice on a Casino Table

The maximum odds that you’re allowed to risk depends upon the casino. Most gambling establishments allow you to bet up to anywhere between 3x and 5x odds.

Here’s an example on how this scenario might play out:

  • You make a $5 pass line wager.
  • A point number is established.
  • You put 3x odds behind pass line.
  • You’re now wagering $20 total (5 + 15).

You’ll still be facing a house edge on the original don’t pass line or pass line bet. Therefore, you’re still technically at a disadvantage to the casino.

However, you’ll lower the house edge significantly. A don’t pass line wager with 3x or 5x odds, for example, only carries a 0.341% and 0.227% house advantage, respectively.

Video poker is the other scenario where you can avoid a house edge. Certain video poker variations can deliver over 100% RTP. That said, you could technically gain an advantage over the house.

The problem, though, is that you’ll have to visit Nevada. The Silver State is the only place with video poker machines like full-pay Deuces Wild (100.76% RTP), 10/7 Double Bonus (100.17%), and 10/6 Double Double Bonus (100.07%).

If you’re in Vegas, Reno, or another Nevada location, though, then you should look for these machines. They’ll give you a chance of actually making long-term profits from gambling. You won’t earn a living from video poker, but you could at least win money through your hobby.

My Final Thoughts on Betfair Zero Lounge

Most online casino games feature low house edges that provide a solid chance to win money. The key, though, is that all of these games do carry a house advantage to some extent.

The Zero Lounge was the one exception. It offered online baccarat, blackjack, roulette, and video poker without a house edge.

If you wanted the best shot at winning money with online casino games, then Zero Lounge was it. It was the first known instance of internet gaming offering 100% RTP.

Craps odds bets and certain video poker variations are your only chances to enjoy this advantage today. However, each of these opportunities comes with a catch that wasn’t seen with the Zero Lounge. With that said, some players forever miss the chance to play at this online lounge.