Bookmaker Betting Term Meaning

Bookmaker is one of the oldest terms in relation to betting because without a bookmaker, punters wouldn’t have anywhere to place their bets. 

A bookmaker, informally referred to as a bookie, is the person or company that is responsible for offering odds, taking bets and guaranteeing payouts on racing, sports and other special events. 

For instance, if you want to place a bet on a horse race or an English Premier League game you’ll need a bookie to accept your bet. Many bookmakers also accept bets on non-sporting events such as politics, reality TV shows, Eurovision and the Oscars. Bookies operate in land-based betting shops, at sports events, and online.

A common misconception many people have is that betting is a battle between the bookmaker and the punter. While it’s correct that if a punter wins, the bookmaker has to pay out the winnings, the reality is that this cash came from another punter who placed the opposite bet which lost. 

The role of the bookie is to create an evenly-balanced betting market that is attractive on both sides so the bets are equally split in correlation with their odds between the possible outcomes. The bookie will also include their own margin that is basically their profit regardless of the outcome of an event. 

Let’s take a simple two-way betting market in a tennis match as an example:

Match Winner market

Serena Willaims
Simona Halep

With Williams being the favourite for this match, the bookmaker is expecting more money to be bet on her winning, so the price on Halep needs to be large enough to attract interested punters. 

We shall assume the bookie has calculated 20% more action on Williams:
-> £12,000 total bets on Williams at 1.80
-> £10,000 total bets on Halep at 2.10

The bookmaker has a total of £22,000 in its possession from punters betting on both sides. The possible payouts would be:
-> If Williams wins: £12,000 x 1.8 = £21,600
-> If Halep wins: £10,000 x 2.1 = £21,000

While the bookmaker would prefer the non-favourite to win, it still makes a profit on Williams winning, albeit slightly less. 

What are the signs of a credible bookmaker?

The majority of operators are honest and will honour their bets but there are also rogue ‘companies’ who are looking for vulnerable punters to take advantage off. Here’s what you should look for when searching for a bookie/bookmaker:

Licences - Ensure that the firm you’re betting with has a valid licence. The best gambling licences are issued by the (UKGC) United Kingdom Gambling Commission and the (MGA) Malta Gaming Authority.

Markets - A great bookie/bookmaker will have a plethora of markets for its punters to choose from. For instance, you’ll want to have the choice between both in-play and pre-match markets. It’s also great to have the option of first goalscorer, total goals, and correct score markets when you’re betting on football.

Offers - The online gambling industry is a competitive space. There are plenty of operators fighting for your custom, which means a wide range of offers are available such as bonus bets, rewards clubs, early payouts, matched deposits and many others.

Customer Service - One of the most important things to consider is the customer support network available. If there are plenty of ways to get in touch (live chat, e-mail, and telephone) then you don’t have much to worry about. Any bookie worth signing up to always puts its customers first.

Bookie/Bookmaker Betting Apps

Most reputable operators will offer a betting app for customers to enjoy. If it doesn’t, there should at the very least be a decent mobile site available. This makes all markets accessible and convenient for punters on the move. 

Betting apps allow you to bet at any time of the day or night. This is useful if you want to bet on events outside of your timezone such as Australian rules or American football, for example.