Bookmaker

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Bookmakers on a greyhound race course, Reading, Berkshire Bookmakers.jpg
Bookmakers on a greyhound race course, Reading, Berkshire

A bookmaker, bookie, or turf accountant is an organization or a person that accepts and pays off bets on sporting and other events at agreed-upon odds.

Contents

History

The first bookmaker, Ogden, stood at Newmarket in 1795. [1]

Range of events

Bookmakers in many countries focus on accepting bets on professional sports, especially horse racing and association football or Indian Premier League cricket. However, a wider range of bets, including on political elections, awards ceremonies such as the Oscars, and novelty bets are accepted by bookmakers in some countries.

Operational procedures

By "adjusting the odds" in their favour (paying out amounts using odds that are less than what they determined to be the true odds) or by having a point spread, bookmakers aim to guarantee a profit by achieving a 'balanced book', either by getting an equal number of bets for each possible outcome or (when they are offering odds) by getting the amounts wagered on each outcome to reflect the odds. [2] When a large bet comes in, a bookmaker may also try to lay off the risk by buying bets from other bookmakers. Bookmakers do not generally attempt to make money from the bets themselves but rather by acting as market makers and profiting from the event regardless of the outcome. Their working methods are similar to those of an actuary, who does a similar balancing of financial outcomes of events for the assurance and insurance industries.

Legality

Depending on the country, bookmaking may be legal or illegal and is often regulated. In the United Kingdom, since 1 May 1961, bookmaking has been legal and has even been a small contributor to the British economy, with a recent explosion of interest in the international gaming sector industry. However, gambling debts were unenforceable under British law until Gambling Act 2005 was passed. Many bookmakers are members of IBAS, an industry organisation used to settle disputes.

Bookmaking was generally illegal in the United States due to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. In May 2018, a United States Supreme Court ruling struck down the law, allowing states to legalize the practice.

In some countries, such as Singapore, Sweden, Canada, and Japan, the only legal bookmaker is owned and operated by the state. In Canada, this is part of the lottery programme and is known as Sport Select.

United Kingdom gambling industry

The first bookmaker in the United Kingdom is considered to be Harry Ogden, who opened a business in the 1790s, although similar activities had existed in other forms earlier in the eighteenth century. [3] [4]

Following the Gaming Act 1845, the only gambling allowed in the United Kingdom was at race tracks. The introduction of special excursion trains meant that all classes of society could attend the new racecourses opening across the country. Cash flowed to the bookmakers who employed bodyguards against protection gangs operating within the vast crowds. [5] Illegal betting shops were fined, but some, like Bella Thomasson, ran betting businesses that the police appeared to turn a blind eye to. [6]

In 1961, Harold Macmillan's Conservative government legalised betting shops, with tough measures enacted to ensure that bookmakers remained honest. A large industry has grown since. At one time, there were over 15,000 betting shops. Now, through consolidation, they have been reduced to between 9,100 and 9,200 in 2013. [7] The group of the largest bookmakers in the country, known as the "Big Three", comprises William Hill, Ladbrokes, and Coral. [8]

Improved TV coverage and the modernisation of the law have allowed betting in shops and casinos in most countries. In the UK, on-track bookies still mark up the odds on boards beside the racecourse and use tic-tac or mobile telephones to communicate the odds between their staff and to other bookies, but, with the modernisation of United Kingdom bookmaking laws, online and high street gambling are at an all-time high. A so-called super-casino had been planned for construction in Manchester, but the government announced that this plan had been scrapped on 26 February 2008.[ citation needed ]

Internet gambling

Although online gambling first started in 1994 when the licensing authority of Antigua and Barbuda passed the Free Trade & Processes Act, bookmakers did not get involved until 2001. They were forced to act when research at the time found there were eight million online players worldwide.

With the arrival of the World Wide Web, many bookmakers have an online brand, but independently owned bookmakers often still maintain a "bricks and mortar" the only operation as the software and hardware required to operate a successful online betting operation are complex and their costs are quite prohibitive; other bookmakers operate "skins" or "white label" websites, which they purchase from one of the large firms. The main websites require bets to be from countries where Internet gambling is allowed and from people over 18 years old. Some small bookmakers and startups purchase software from specialised white label solution providers. Since gambling products have a high conversion rate from one niche to another, most online betting websites also feature other gambling products such as poker, live dealer casino games, lottery, bingo, slots and other casino games. Controversially, the explosion in Internet gambling is being linked to a rise in gambling addiction, according to the UK's help and advice organisations for addicts, GamCare and Gamblers Anonymous.

Increasingly, online bettors are turning to the use of betting exchanges such as Betfair and BETDAQ, which automatically match back and lay bets between different bettors, thus effectively cutting out the bookmaker's traditional profit margin also called an overround.

These online exchange markets operate a market index of prices near but usually not at 100% competitiveness, as exchanges take commissions on winnings. True wholesale odds are odds that operate at 100% of probabilistic outcomes.

Betting exchanges compete with the traditional bookmaker. They are generally able to offer punters better odds because of their much lower overheads but also give opportunities for arbitrage, the practice of taking advantage of a price differential between two or more markets. However, traditionally, arbitrage has always been possible by backing all outcomes with bookmakers (Dutching), as opposed to laying an outcome on an exchange. Exchanges, however, allow bookmakers to see the state of the market and set their odds accordingly.

With the increasing number of online betting exchanges, betting exchanges are now providing free bet offers in an attempt to lure customers away from the competition. These free bets are generally based on the size of the deposit made into the gambling account. For example, if a customer deposited £20, the betting exchange would deposit an additional £20 for the customer to use. [9] Free bet rules vary depending on the betting exchange.

Some bookmakers have even taken to using betting exchanges as a way of laying off unfavourable bets and thus reducing their overall exposure. This has led to insecurity from some TABs in Australia, state-run betting agencies that attempted to deny Betfair an Australian licence by running unfavourable ads in the media regarding the company. When Tasmania granted Betfair a licence despite these efforts, the Western Australian state legislature passed a law that specifically criminalised using betting exchanges from within the state; however, the law was later ruled to be unconstitutional. As a result, internet gambling in Australia required a new legal framework. The Interactive Gambling Act 2001 regulates the online gambling market in Australia, together with all its amendments. The last amendment was introduced on 13 September 2017. This bill states that online casinos, online poker and live betting are illegal in Australia. The Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) is the regulatory body responsible for all supervising online gambling activities. Online sports betting is legal, however. [10]

Bets are also taken via phones, using email and SMS text messages, [11] though poker and other sports are more suited to other media. As technology moves on, the gambling world ensures it is a major player in new technology operations.

Most televised sports in the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe are now sponsored wholly or partly by Internet and high street bookmakers, with sometimes several bookmakers and online casinos being displayed on players' shirts, advertising hoardings, stadium signs and competition event titles. Sponsors are especially highlighted in the football category since football fans present a significant percentage of the bookmakers' target group. [12]

Many of the bookmakers are sponsoring some of the major football teams in the major European football leagues, [13] although Werder Bremen are currently fighting the German courts for the freedom to continue featuring bookmaker Bwin on their shirts, as Germany and France take action against online gamers. For example, as of 1 January 2020, Germany bettors will not be able to bet more than €1,000 a month. The latest amendment of the ITG states that. New online sportsbook laws are expected shortly in Germany, as this law is only temporary: the expiration date is set to be on 20 June 2020. [14]

The situation is not that strict in France, however. Online sports betting in France is divided into two sections: Autorité de Régulation des Jeux en Ligne (ARJEL) regulates online sports betting, while online horse betting is regulated by the law "Decree 2010-498 from 17 May 2010. International bookmakers are allowed to enter the French market, thanks to the Law No. 2010-476 from 12 May 2010. [15] [16]

With the recent banning of tobacco sponsorship [17] and the significant commercial budgets available to the gaming industry, sponsorship by car manufacturers, alcoholic drinks, soft drinks and fast-food marketers is being rapidly replaced by sponsorship from gaming companies in the Far East and Europe.

The United Kingdom's Gambling Act 2005 introduced a new regulatory system for governing gambling in Great Britain. This system includes new provisions for regulating the advertising of gambling products. These provisions of the Act came into effect in September 2007. It is an offence to advertise in the UK, gambling that physically takes place in a non-European Economic Area (EEA) or, in the case of gambling by remote means, gambling that is not regulated by the gambling laws of an EEA state. The Gambling Commission is the body that makes sure all sites and operators follow the new restrictions. In addition to the Gambling Act of 2005, according to the new gambling bill, online gambling sites are only allowed to offer services within the United Kingdom, if they are registered at the UK Gambling Commission. [18]

The situation is more confused in the United States, which has attempted to restrict operators of foreign gambling websites from accessing their domestic market. This resulted in 2007 in a ruling against the US government by the World Trade Organization. [19] However, common online gambling laws in the United States still don't exist - it differs from state to state. All forms of online gambling are illegal within the states of Utah and Hawaii, while the states of Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey took a different approach: almost all forms of online gambling are legal in these states. These are the only US states where online casino sites can be legally registered. It is important to mention that Native Americans have their own gambling legislation - the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988. However, they need their state's approval to be able to offer their services online. [20]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gambling</span> Wagering of money on a game of chance or event with an uncertain outcome

Gambling is the wagering of something of value on an event with an uncertain outcome with the intent of winning something else of value. Gambling thus requires three elements to be present: consideration, risk (chance), and a prize. The outcome of the wager is often immediate, such as a single roll of dice, a spin of a roulette wheel, or a horse crossing the finish line, but longer time frames are also common, allowing wagers on the outcome of a future sports contest or even an entire sports season.

Spread betting is any of various types of wagering on the outcome of an event where the pay-off is based on the accuracy of the wager, rather than a simple "win or lose" outcome, such as fixed-odds betting or parimutuel betting.

Betfair is a British gambling company which operates the world's largest online betting exchange. It also offers sports betting, online casino, online poker, and online bingo. The business is split into two divisions, UK, and International. UK operations are conducted from its headquarters in Hammersmith in Greater London, while its International business operates from its overseas hub in Malta. In February 2016, Betfair merged with Paddy Power to create Flutter Entertainment.

A betting exchange is a marketplace for customers to bet on the outcome of discrete events. Betting exchanges offer the same opportunities to bet as a bookmaker with a few differences. Gamblers can buy and sell the outcome, and they can trade in real-time throughout the event, either to cut their losses or lock in profit. Bookmaker operators generate revenue by offering less efficient odds. Betting exchanges normally generate revenue by charging a small commission on winning bets.

Vigorish is the fee charged by a bookmaker for accepting a gambler's wager. In American English, it can also refer to the interest owed a loanshark in consideration for credit. The term came to English usage via Yiddish slang, which was itself a loanword from Ukrainian or Russian.

Paddy Power is an Irish gambling company founded in 1988. The business is split into two divisions, UK Ireland (UKI), and International. UKI operations are conducted from its headquarters in Dublin, while its International business operates from its overseas hub in Malta. Alongside its betting shops, Paddy Power also offers online sports betting, online casino, and online poker. In February 2016, the company merged with Betfair to create Flutter Entertainment.

Sport Select is a group of sports betting games offered by Canada's lottery corporations. In Quebec, the program is known as Pari sportif; in Ontario and Atlantic Canada, it is known as Pro-Line while in British Columbia, it is known as Sports Action. However, the rules for the games are similar in all provinces. Initially created to offer betting primarily on the North American major professional sports leagues, Sport Select has expanded to offer betting on competitions such as the English Premier League and college sports.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sports betting</span> Form of gambling

Sports betting is the activity of predicting sports results and placing a wager on the outcome. The frequency of sports bet upon varies by culture, with the vast majority of bets being placed on association football, American football, basketball, baseball, hockey, track cycling, auto racing, mixed martial arts, and boxing at both the amateur and professional levels. Sports betting can also extend to non-athletic events, such as reality show contests and political elections, and non-human contests such as horse racing, greyhound racing, and cockfighting. It is not uncommon for sports betting websites to offer wagers for entertainment events such as the Grammy Awards, the Oscars, and the Emmy Awards.

An over–under or over/under (O/U) bet is a wager in which a sportsbook will predict a number for a statistic in a given game, and bettors wager that the actual number in the game will be either higher or lower than that number. For example, in Super Bowl XXXIX, most Las Vegas casinos set the over–under for the score of the game at 46.0. A bettor could wager that the combined score of the two teams would be either more than or less than that number. Since the combined score of that game was 45, anyone who had bet on "under" won. The bet is called a push if the actual number exactly equals the over-under, in which case all bets are refunded.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sportsbook</span> Sports gambling establishment

In the United States, a sportsbook or a race and sports book is a place where a gambler can wager on various sports competitions, including golf, football, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, soccer, horse racing, greyhound racing, boxing, and mixed martial arts. The method of betting varies with the sport and the type of game. In the US, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 allowed only Nevada, Oregon, Montana, and Delaware to legally wager on sports other than horse racing, greyhound racing, and jai alai; the law was ruled unconstitutional on May 14, 2018, freeing states to legalize sports betting at their discretion.

Betting arbitrage is an example of arbitrage arising on betting markets due to either bookmakers' differing opinions on event outcomes or errors. When conditions allow, by placing one bet per each outcome with different betting companies, the bettor can make a profit regardless of the outcome. Mathematically, arbitrage occurs when there are a set of odds, which represent all mutually exclusive outcomes that cover all state space possibilities of an event, whose implied probabilities add up to less than 1. In the bettors' slang an arbitrage is often referred to as an arb; people who take advantage of these arbitrage opportunities are called arbers.

Gambling in the United Kingdom is regulated by the Gambling Commission on behalf of the government's Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) under the Gambling Act 2005. This Act of Parliament significantly updated the UK's gambling laws, including the introduction of a new structure of protections for children and vulnerable adults, as well as bringing the burgeoning Internet gaming sector within British regulation for the first time.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gambling in the United States</span>

Gambling in the United States is legally restricted. In 2008, gambling activities generated gross revenues of $92.27 billion in the United States.

Matched betting is a betting technique employed by individuals to profit from free bets and incentives offered by bookmakers. Its proponents considered it risk-free in theory-based probability.

Mobile gambling refers to playing games of chance or skill for money by using a remote device such as a tablet computer, smartphone or a mobile phone with a wireless internet connection. Over a hundred mobile casinos were operating as of December 2013, with most of the big casino operators in gambling now providing a mobile platform for their player base.

Gambling in India varies by state; states in India are entitled to formulate their own laws for gambling activities. Some states like Goa have legalised casinos. Common gambling activities like organized betting are restricted except for selective categories including lottery and horse racing.

Advantage gambling, or advantage play, refers to legal methods used to gain an advantage while gambling, in contrast to cheating. The term usually refers to house-banked casino games, but can also refer to games played against other players, such as poker. Someone who practises advantage gambling is often referred to as an advantage player, or AP. Unlike cheating, which is by definition illegal, advantage play exploits innate characteristics of a particular game to give the player an advantage relative to the house or other players. While not illegal, advantage play is often discouraged and some advantage players may be banned by certain casinos.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pinnacle Sports</span>

Pinnacle is an online gaming website that was founded in 1998. Since its inception, Pinnacle has become a medium-sized, fully licensed, online sportsbook. Pinnacle Sports rebranded to Pinnacle on June 1, 2016 after acquiring the pinnacle.com domain name.

Gambling in Nigeria is not well regulated. Although there is a gambling law in place, many illegal casinos operate in the country. The legal land-based casinos are located in the two largest cities. The biggest casino is The Federal Palace Hotel in Lagos. Nigerian law focuses on activities to reduce money laundering and illegal gambling.

The Illinois Sports Wagering Act was passed into law on June 28, 2019 with the first legal wager being placed on March 9, 2020 The Act allows for individuals 21 or older to place monetary wagers on live sporting events. In 2018, the United States Supreme Court held in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Ass'n that states may authorize and license sports gambling, finding that certain provisions of the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act were unconstitutional. This ruling opened the door for states like Illinois to allow legal sports betting to their citizens. Illinois allows wagers to be placed on many sports including football, basketball, baseball, hockey, boxing, MMA, and other, less mainstream events.

References

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