A bookie or bookmaker is simply a company, organization or person that accepts sports wagers. There are a lot of bookmakers online, including several that are traded publicly on stock exchanges around the world.
Bookies will collect money when they accept wagers and then payout winners afterwards. Keeping customers is one of the most important factors when running a bookie, as word of mouth travels quickly.
It should be made clear that a bookie rarely “gambles”, they simply accept bets. The goal of a bookmaker is to ensure they have a balanced book, so that they can earn a profit on the bookmaker margin (Vig).
To have a balanced book, bookmakers will attempt to get even action on all sides in a market. However, that’ll rarely happen, so most bookies will end up laying off bets when they take a lot of action on one side.
If bookies gambled by not balancing the books, they’d end up broke more often than not. It’s fine and common to take a stand on specific bets as a bookie, but never on an amount that would jeopardize your liquidity.
A bookie will create a betting line for a market where they expect the public to bet on both sides evenly. As bets come in, bookies adjust the lines based on the action they’ve been getting from their bettors.
Bookmakers may also shade lines. Let’s say a bookie has a lot of clients in NYC. When the Yankees play, there would be a lot of bets on them more often than not, so the bookie may shade the line a bit to make more.
Bodog is famously known as one of the big bookies that shades lines and offer different line profiles based on how a client has wagered in the past. With technology, bookies run various algorithms to increase profits.
With the Internet, anyone can become a bookie. The barrier to entry is extremely low for offshore bookies. One simply needs a PPH software solution and clients, although you’ll have to consider the legalities.
A bookie can offer markets on anything they want and many do, even the big fish in the industry. For example, bettors can wager on TV shows, movies, award ceremonies, politics (elections) and many other markets.
Is Running A Bookie Legal?
There are several jurisdictions around the world where bookmakers are licensed and regulated. For example, the UK market has been regulated since 1961 and bookmaking contributes a lot to the British economy.
Getting licensed is expensive and not necessary for a small offshore bookie. A lot of bookies operate out of Costa Rica, which is also where a lot of the PPH companies operate and host their servers.
You should always consult legal counsel to determine whether what you’re doing is legal or not. In a lot of countries it isn’t legal to operate a bookie or online bookmaker, but many do under the radar.
Since bookies aren’t legal in a lot of jurisdictions, such as most of America, payment processing becomes a bit more difficult. Your best bet is to utilize money transfer services (Person2Person) or bank wires.