To best understand this article, it is best if you already know the difference between a pub and an agent, as well as what constitutes “the spread”.
I’ll start out with explaining different types of betting sites. This is very simple: A “book” may be defined as an agreement between two or more parties to exchange money in betting on certain results.
The simplest form of this would be when two people bet against each other without involving any kind of organized service, while the most complex form would involve thousands of participants and dozens of service providers.
Most bookies are somewhere in between, offering bets to the general public while providing services for their clients on top of that.
These are the most common types of bookmaking operations:
- Pubs are pretty much what the term implies. They offer betting on sports for people who walk in off the street or call them up with a “hunch”. Generally these places will not take bets over the phone or by email, which is how they keep their risk low – some pubs have been around for decades, but there’s no question that this type of bookie makes up a minority of bookmakers today.
- Agencies do not accept action directly from bettors themselves often times, but rather they employ bookmakers to do so. This eliminates the risk of the bookie taking an action himself, because if he did it would be a conflict of interest – best case scenario being that the person who took the bet wins his wager but then walks away with no money because his cash went into his own pocket. For high rollers, agencies will often have their best “oddsmakers” do all or most of their betting for them. Many top-level professionals get paid well for this privilege.
- Exchange operators are actually pretty rare in North America, but they are very popular in other parts of the world where online betting is not yet legal. At an exchange you can bet on any variety of results while giving equal weight to every outcome. For example, a common outcome at an exchange is the score of the match. If you think Team A will win 1-0 or 5-2 or 1-4, you can simply bet on that outcome and your position relative to the other bettors will be determined by how much money is on each side of this particular outcome at any given time . In North America bookies would consider this as “betting pick’em”, which is betting without giving any points to either team in order to balance risk – best case scenario being that you win both accounts because no one covered them against each other.
- Magazines are a special service offered by some agencies and exchanges. It works like this: I want to offer my customers best odds, but I don’t want to risk much money on any given bet. You offer me best odds and in return you get my business – your customers. If your customers win, they pay you (and thus their bookie) less than if they won betting with the best current price in town; if they lose, you absorb that loss yourself in order to keep them as clients for future bets. Magazines are an attractive proposition for both parties because it offers best best prices while keeping all or most of the risk away from the bookmaker himself.
- Books operate like exchanges except they do not accept action directly from bettors themselves . Everyone who wants to place a wager must go through them instead, which allows these types of bookies to offer best best prices. The bookie can thus avoid most of the risk and offer best prices by essentially hiring someone else (the bookmaker) to bear it for him.
- Sites operate like managed bookies except they do not accept action directly from bettors themselves . Everyone who wants to place a wager must go through them instead, which allows these types of bookies to offer best best prices. Using this model they can avoid almost all of the risk and offer best prices even when losing days add up because they only need one or two big losers per month in order to cover their expenses and winnings. This is truly an amazing business model whose potential has not been fully exploited yet in North America but which is popular in other parts of the world.