Runner Betting Term Meaning

A ‘runner’ in the world of betting can mean a horse which is participating in a horse race, but can also mean a person who places a bet (or bets) for someone else.

The name ‘runner’ came about due to the fact that when a group of people were watching a race or match, they would often nominate someone to ‘run’ to the bookmaker and place their bets for them. 

This was particularly prevalent when a group of friends would be watching the afternoon horse races at the pub, and you would see the runner going back and forth between the pub and bookies to place the wagers.

This is quickly becoming a thing of the past due to mobile technology and the ability to bet online. The elderly community, who may not have access to smartphones, might still utilise a runner in the traditional sense of the word.

If someone is using a runner nowadays, it usually means they can’t place the bet themselves for some reason and need to get someone else to do it for them. There could be several legitimate reasons for this, such as:

  • They may not know how to place a bet using a pen and paper and would rather have someone else do it for them.
  • They may want to place a bet against their home team, but would rather not be seen doing it.
  • They may want to place a bet at a casino, but they are on a cold streak. This can seriously alter the betting patterns of the other punters, even causing them to leave the table in some cases. A runner could be used so as not to affect those players. 

As well as those perfectly innocent situations, there could also be some more nefarious reasons for using a runner. In these cases, the runner is usually known as a beard, due to the fact that the punter is using the runner to disguise his identity.

  • The punter may have been banned from a particular bookmaker.
  • They may be a professional sportsperson. Most players, officials, and coaches are not allowed to bet on the sport that they are involved in.
  • They may be an employee of the bookmaker. Many bookies do not allow their staff to place wagers with them.
  • They may wish to place a wager which exceeds the betting limit. If they wanted to place a £10,000 bet and the betting limit was £5,000, a runner could place the other £5,000.
  • They may be living in a country where you are not allowed to bet online. A runner could be hired to place the wager from an unrestricted country. 

No matter what the reason is for using a runner, they have to be a very trustworthy person. As they are the one placing the bets, it would be very simple for them to claim your winnings as their own. 

In many cases, especially the ones that involve rule-breaking, the use of a runner (or beard) is illegal. We are not recommending any of the methods mentioned above, but it is useful to know about them so you can identify them.

Runner FAQ

What is a runner in betting?

A runner in betting can refer to a horse participating in a race or a person placing a bet for someone else.