Updated: August 2023

How to Become a Bookmaker

2 April 2019

There is an old saying in gambling that the bookie always wins. This isn’t technically true, as a lot of people betting do win bets and sometimes the bookie will suffer a heavy loss on a particular event, but in the long term they usually make a nice profit.

This can get people thinking “I want to be a bookmaker”, especially those who aren’t that successful at gambling or those who understand gambling inside out and want the chance to make some of the profit successful bookmakers do.

Here, we will give you a guide on what you need to know to become a bookmaker.

What is a Bookmaker?

In brief, a bookmaker is a person or company who accepts bets at agreed upon odds on sporting events and other events such as awards ceremonies, reality TV show finals, or political elections.

The person will go to the bookmaker, whether in person or online and accept odds for a certain occurrence happening. For example, a football team winning a match at odds of 2/1. The bookmaker accepts the bet, with the punter providing their stake money. For this we will say £100.

After the event, one of two things happens. Either the punter wins the bet, in which case they get winnings related to the price, or the bet loses and the bookmaker keeps the stake money. With the stake and odds noted above, a winning bet would pay the punter 2 x the stake plus the stake. So, the bookmaker would have to pay out £200 to the winning punter plus their original £100 stake money back, meaning a total of £300.

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Setting Odds

One thing to understand to be a successful bookmaker is setting the odds and adding a margin to guarantee a profit.

If you tossed a coin, there is a 50/50 chance of it landing on heads or tails. So, if you were pricing the outcome with regards odds as a bookmaker does, the true price for each outcome is evens or 1/1. But, this way, the bookmaker will not make any profit even if taking the same amount of bets on each outcome.

So, in order for the bookmaker to make a profit they will add in their own margin. They do this by reducing the odds a little for each outcome, meaning that they will make a profit if taking the same number of bets on each outcome.

For example, if 100 people bet on heads and 100 people bet on tails at odds of 1/1 the money staked would work out to exactly the same as the potential pay out. Lets look at it by saying each person waged 1 on the outcome, which means:

• 100 x 1 on heads = 100
• 100 x 1 on tails = 100

The bookmaker would take 200 in stake money. But, regardless of the outcome, the payout would also be 200 because odds of evens means that every person who correctly predicted the final outcome would double their stake money.

By adding a small margin the bookmaker ensures a profit. Just by changing the odds slightly from 1/1 to 10/11 on each outcome will mean the odds are the same but the payout changes. The bookmaker would still take 200 in stake money, but would pay out 1.91 to each person who bet on the correct outcome. Meaning, they would pay out a total of 191 instead of 200 and make a profit of 9 regardless of the outcome.

Having this margin and maintaining a balanced book are key to making a profit and being a successful bookmaker.

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The Law

In order to be successful in any business you must understand the laws surrounding it and the gambling industry is heavily regulated. To become a bookmaker, you must first do your homework on the laws surrounding betting in whichever country you are aiming at starting up in, licenses required in order to trade and any other regulations you may fall foul too.

Part of your planning before even deciding on whether to embark on becoming a bookmaker should be to look in-depth at rules, regulations, licences required and other laws.

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Stand out From the Crowd

To be successful and make a profit you need to have a customer base. To build this, you would need to offer bonuses and incentives to drag people away from the big companies with their all singing and all dancing approach to advertising.

You could also offer markets which are limited in the country you are aiming at becoming a bookmaker in, use novelty bets as a way of attracting customers and try to offer better odds or price boosts for certain events.

It’s a competitive market, with literally hundreds of betting companies, so to become a bookmaker you must do full research, be completely knowledgable about the industry as a whole, and be prepared to go through lots of stress and hard work.

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