What Is A Bookmaker in Regards to Sports Betting and Wagering?
by Doc's Sports - 10/11/2014
The term "bookmaker" is a more formal term for the commonly used slang term bookie. Though bookie can have a shady, illegal connotation, that isn’t always the case. The word bookmaker, which is more common in the UK can than the US, can be used interchangeably with sportsbook, or the shortened form of book. A bookmaker simply take bets on sports, and guarantees a return at agreed upon odds if the bet is successful.
At least theoretically, the job of a bookmaker is simple. Square bettors will often think that they are facing off against the linemakers at sportsbooks, trying to outperform them in picking winners. That just isn’t the case. Bookmakers want to act as market makers. When they set their ideal odds then one team is as attractive to half the bettors as the other team is to the other half. If one team is significantly more attractive to bettors than the other once the line is live then the bookmaker will just shift the line. The bookmaker takes in the money from the losing bets, takes a commission, and pays out the rest to the winning bettors. As long as the action is reasonably balanced in a game, the books have no risk and are assured profit regardless of the outcome of the game. Because of that, bookmakers are concerned when setting lines not with predicting who will win the game, but rather how the public is likely to perceive the game.
There are a wide range of bookmakers available for betting depending upon where you are. In the UK betting on sports is legal and widespread, and there are betting shops all over the place. Bookmakers are also widespread in Las Vegas. There are just a few other jurisdictions where sports betting of one sort or another can be done in the US. In Canada, only the government can legally act as a bookmaker, offering sports lotteries with poor odds. Bookmakers are very common on the internet, though using them is not legal in all jurisdictions. It is up to the bettor to understand where and how they can legally bet.
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