How to Become a Bookie

So how do you get into the bookmaking business and become a full fledged bookie?  First of all, it’s important to understand exactly what a bookie does.  A bookie—short for ‘bookmaker’–is in the business of taking bets.  Typically they take action on sporting events including horse races but in some instances they write bets on other types of events like financial markets.   In many ways, a bookmaker serves the same function as a stock exchange or other financial market serving as an intermediary which whom players can bet on games the same way a stock exchange allows individuals to invest—or ‘bet’ on the performance of businesses and corporations.

One of the most important tasks a bookie has is setting the pointspread or odds on each game.  He’ll set the ‘price’ on each game with the goal of attracting an equal amount of bets (or ‘action’) on each side.  Once the result of the game is known he’ll pay off the winners and collect from the losers.  The bookmaker earns his profit with a commission on losing bets—typically 10%–known as the ‘vig’ (short for ‘vigorish’) or ‘juice’.  If the bookie does his job well, he puts himself in the role of a ‘middleman’ or ‘market maker’–he doesn’t have any risk of not making a profit assuming he can keep himself ‘in balance’.

In addition to this quantitative role, the bookmaker is also in the ‘sales and marketing’ business.  A bookie can’t do anything without clients, so much of his responsibility is trying to attract and maintain the players who form his client base.  Like any business, a bookmaker usually starts small with a few players and grows his business over time.  A bookmaker may find his first clients wherever he spends a lot of time—venues like sports bars, golf courses and cigar shops are typical locations.  Once his business starts to grow he may find that client referrals and ‘word of mouth’ are his best methods of attracting new business.  Like any commission based business, the more clients a bookmaker has the greater volume of action he can write.  This volume equates to more profit which is why he got into the game in the first place.

Tradition dictates that the bookmaking ‘week’ runs from Monday through Sunday.  After each week, the bookie figures out who he needs to pay, who owes him money and the collection process begins.  Usually this is done on a single day early in the week—traditionally Tuesdays are the ‘settle up day’ for most bookmakers.

The logistical demands of the bookmaking business have changed throughout time as technology has improved.  Before the late 20th century, the business necessitated a lot of time on the phone and a lot of ‘footwork’.  The bookie would set up an office to take phone calls or employ ‘runners’ to take bets.  Then there was the process of keeping track of who bet what, which usually required writing in all down in notebooks or on chalkboard.  This was not only a tedious and time consuming process but make precision very difficult—it was hard for bookmakers and players to have confidence in the accuracy of the bets and payouts.

Note that even this was a ‘best case scenario’–there were always players looking to take advantage or ‘get an edge’ on his bookmaker.  He’d place his bet on one team and if they lost insist that he played the other side in the game.  He’d question the outcome of bets, the pointspread he was quoted when he placed the bet and any other variable that could be contested to put things in his favor.  If the bookie delegated the collection and customer service process to others, it added even more logistical problems as his people would have to get in touch with him to make ‘rulings’ on disputes.   Otherwise he’d have to give his employees autonomy to make a ‘judgment call’ which could hurt his reputation or cost him money if not done properly.

In addition, the bookmaker would have to be on top of the sports he dealt.  He’d have to know the teams, players and most importantly breaking news—particularly player injuries—to make sure that he was dealing a ‘sharp’ line that players couldn’t take advantage of.  He’d also have to be aware of what other bookmaking outlets were ‘charging’ on games and whether he wanted to adjust his line to attract any of that his way.  All in all, it was a very demanding and challenging job that required a significant investment of time and energy.

The good news is that technology has changed the game.  The bookmaking business has become significantly easier and now most of the tedious and time consuming tasks can be outsourced to professional offshore bookmaking service providers.  The result is that bookies can provide players with better service, keep more accurate records and significantly curtail the amount of time and effort required to run the business.  This leaves the bookie in a position where he can spend his time building his client base and with them his profits.

By working with an industry leading PPH Services (pay-per-head or price-per-head), the bookmaker gains several significant advantages:

  1.   Accurate and thorough financial reporting
  2.   24/7 wagering services provided by highly trained telephone clerks and via a professionally designed website
  3.     No more logistical headaches (prepaid phone cards) and having to maintain sensitive client and financial data
  4.     Extensive records of player betting action eliminates mistakes or misunderstandings
  5.     The bookie is able to focus on relationship with his players and outsource the rest!

‘Cloud computing’ is becoming a well known tech industry catch phrase and is one of the fastest growing concepts throughout all businesses.  A quality PPH service brings ‘cloud computing’ to the bookie business—it allows a bookmaker to outsource his problems and headaches offshore and lets him focus on serving his clients and growing his business.  Bookmaking Software will give you all the tools you need to upgrade and modernize your bookmaking business. Don’t think your business is too small to take advantage of our PPH services—while some PPH businesses require a minimum of 20 players others will accept smaller bookies with as few as 3 players! We have NO minimum.  We’re here to serve you and help make your business more successful.  Feel free to contact us at any time with any questions!

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