How Does a Sportsbook Work?

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Sports Betting

You must have heard of sports betting before, or even had an encounter with a bookmaker! Of course, bookmaker’s shops are fully prepared to cooperate with both brick-and-mortar and online gambling venues. You can wager on a variety of sporting events, such as horse racing, football, and basketball games, and even the Super Bowl. This activity is a crucial component of the entire gambling industry; but if you take a closer look at these two kinds of entertainment, you will still find some significant differences!

And “sports betting” is called this precisely because of these differences. Casino games are mostly based on luck, and this even includes the ones that require strategic thinking. On the other hand, sports betting involves a spectrum of aspects that are all capable of influencing the final outcome. In this article, we will discuss the main features of placing a wager on sports activities, such as odds, probabilities, and payouts. And we will also go through the history of sports betting, so we can better understand the way sports betting operates today.

Sports Betting Through History

History Sports BettingAlthough there is no way to find out how sports betting originated, there is evidence that it dates back to ancient Rome. During the reign of Julius Caesar, gambling in the Roman empire was widespread. Roman citizens used to wager on the result of chariot races or circus performances. And since the city used to tax this activity, a vast number of things that ought to have been punished were ignored.

Today, the largest number of sportsbook establishments is located in Nevada, USA. Back in 1949, gamblers were allowed to make bets on horse races and professional sporting activities. Each entry incurred a tax of 10%. Fast forward to 1974, and sports betting is already separate free-standing activity. This resulted in many small bookmaker’s shops closing; it also led to the reduction of taxes to 2%.

Modern Sports Betting

Ever since it first started gaining in popularity, sports betting has been a thriving branch of the industry; and nowadays, almost every brick-and-mortar casino has a sports betting section. The expansion of the Internet has had a huge impact on this field as well. Overall, the vast network of virtual gambling venues features a wide range of those that incorporate sports betting. However, there are some that are aimed exclusively at it as well!

In the early days of sports this activity, traders were in charge of the mathematics, and algorithms were used to calculate the odds and payouts. But nowadays, sportsbooks are the ones entitled to make decisions. They are the ones who accept bets and set the payout rates. Due to all the modifications of this activity we have seen up to now, the market has become rather competitive. This is the reason for all the innovations that have appeared in recent years, especially when it comes to online betting! But lately, much more attention has been dedicated to the layouts and special features of sports booking websites than before. Operators of such websites are aware of the fact that such moves are going to draw in more customers in the long run.

Sports Betting from the Legal Point of View

In the United States, sports betting is considered to be an illegal form of gambling. Even states with permission to take bets have a complex set of rules when it comes to this activity. According to the Wire Act of 1961, bookmakers are forbidden to take bets. However, there is not a single line within the act that prevents sports enthusiasts from wagering.

The only four exceptions to this rule are Delaware, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon. New Jersey was given the opportunity to regulate sports betting in Atlantic City casinos. But the authorities did not manage to handle this issue within a year. That is why New Jersey is still subject to the Wire Act.

Canada has legalized wagering money on sport events, but the options are limited. People are allowed to wager only on certain sporting events, which is why the majority of Canadian gamblers turn to online betting. However, they can only use Canadian websites unless they want to end up breaking the law!

The UK gambling legislation permits all forms of online gambling, including sports betting. Australian authorities have a similar opinion on this subject. However, gambling aficionados of the Land Down Under need to turn to the official bookmakers within the territory of their country.

Europe sports betting laws represent a wider topic, as all countries are entitled to create their own rules. Most European countries recognize this activity as legal, provided that each bookmaker office holds a license.

Contemporary Sportsbook Slang

If you are a sports enthusiast without any experience in sports betting, you will certainly find this section useful. We will go through the frequently used phrases among sportsbooks and gamblers. That way, you will not happen to misunderstand someone or be misunderstood.

  • Across the board — This expression is relevant to horse racing. You wager the same amount on three possible outcomes — the horse will win, place, or show in a race.
  • Bookie — A person who accepts the bets.
  • Chalk — The team with the better odds of winning.
  • Circled game — A game that implies limited options.
  • Gambling Sports Betting AreaDead heat — A horse race that ends with the score even.
  • Exotic — A proposition bet.
  • Exposure — The biggest amount of money a bookmaker is likely to lose during a game.
  • First-half bet — A bet you place on the first half of a game.
  • Grand salami — All goals on all hockey games within the course of one day.
  • Half-time bet — An opposite of the first-half bet.
  • Handicapper — An individual who analyses the algorithms of a sporting event.
  • Handle — All wagers placed on an event, combined.
  • If bet — You can place separate bets that are codependent. Provided that the first one meets the conditions you have set, the following one gets processed.
  • Juice — Bookmaker’s dividend.
  • Layoff — Wagers placed to multiple bookmakers in order to reduce the risks.
  • Limit — The maximum sum of money you are allowed to wager before a bookmaker changes the odds.
  • Lines — A synonym for odds.
  • Middle — Placing bets on both sides in a sporting event.
  • Move the line — To make an extra payment in order to gain an additional half a point on a point spread game.
  • Off the board — A bookmaker has not offered any action on a game yet.
  • Outlaw line — A line only a privileged group of bettors can bet on.
  • Over/under — You place a bet that a combined number of points in a game will exceed/will be under a certain number.
  • Parlay — A series of wagers.
  • Rundown — Circumstances of a sporting event.
  • Spread betting — A type of speculation more accurate than the regular win or lose betting. Covering the spread refers to covering a spectrum of possible outcomes.
  • Square — An inexperienced player.
  • Steam — A colloquial expression for the fast movement of a line.
  • Straight bet — A bet you place on the first team.
  • Totals bet — Betting that each team will have a certain final score.
  • Taking the price — Betting on the underdo; that is, the team which realistically has lower chances of winning the game.
  • Teaser — A line altered so that a gambler could gain an advantage.
  • Tout — A self-proclaimed expert in an area.
  • Vigorish — Bookmaker’s dividend on a losing wager.

Placing a Wager

Casino chips on the table The mere action of placing a wager on a sporting event is rather simple. However, the decision-making process that precedes has several important aspects you need to know about. Once you check the list of the following events your bookmaker has, you need to choose the one you want to bet on. Then afterwards, it’s time to contemplate the outcomes and figure out how much money you want to wager. You can see all the relevant pieces of information on your betting slip or under the sign “balance” in a virtual bookmaker’s shop. Once you have mastered the basics, you can place more complex bets. One of such bets is parlay, which you can achieve by adding more options to your slip.

Placing a bet in land-based bookies or within brick-and-mortar casinos that feature sports betting differ from online betting. That is the case with the majority of gambling forms. However, in spite of those small differences, the layout of every sportsbook is subject to the same blueprint. Regardless of the venue you enter, you will see all the available sporting events on the screen, from left to right. The odds will show up in the middle of the screen, whereas your betting slip will be located at the upper right corner.

Once you fill in the amount of your wager, you will see the sum of your possible payout on your slip. You can do this the other way around too — decide on the desired amount of money you are hoping to win and place a bet accordingly. Bookmakers or the “win amount” section in the virtual bookmaker’s offices can calculate the odds and payouts for you. Once you place your bet, you cannot modify or cancel it, so be careful not to make a mistake in the process of doing this!

The Virtual World of Sports Betting

Since all forms of gambling, including sports betting, have ended up getting their own virtual counterparts, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the way online betting works. That said, you should also know that under no circumstances should you be obliged to download or install the software in order to be able to engage in online sports betting! The only requirements you need to meet are to have a high-speed Internet connection and choose a reputable virtual venue. You may come across websites that require you to add an extension to be able to view them. However, we advise you to consider free and legitimate software only.

In the spirit of keeping up with the expansion of technology, many sports betting websites offer you the possibility to access their platform via mobile devices. Some apps can even be downloaded from Google Play or Apple store. There is also a vast number of sites that offer the option of downloading the app from their platform. You are probably aware of some advantages this option offers such as gambling or betting on the go. However, you may not know about some of the other opportunities you have, such as bonuses and even free bets available to those who use the apps. So make sure you gather some information about such promotions, in order to make sure you get the most out of your betting experience!

Odds and Probabilities

This is the crucial segment in sports betting and the one you are probably the most interested in. The odds depend on your country of residence; that is, they may differ from one region to another. However, if your preferred form of betting is the virtual kind, you can switch to the format that suits you better. The main formats are Decimal, American, and Fractional. In this section, we will analyze them in detail, and provide you with some information about each one.

Gambling Horses Figures on the Table Decimal is the simplest one to understand. Therefore, it may be perfect for those who are new to the field. In order to calculate the payout you will receive if you win the bet, you need to multiply the odds of a particular bet by the size of your bet. Therefore, the higher the stake, the larger the possible payout!

American, commonly referred to as the ‘moneyline’ odds, is a format that coordinates the bet in accordance with a figure of $100.

The concept of fraction format is a bit more difficult to grasp in comparison to those of the previous two. For instance, when a team has ½ odds of winning, their chances, expressed as a percentage, are 66%. Even though this sounds complicated, you only require some basic knowledge of mathematics in order to figure it out! The number on the left is a possible payout in case you win your wager, i.e. the number on the right.

The Relativity of Bookmakers’ Rules

The rules that regard setting the odds are less strict nowadays. Thanks to this fact, bookmakers have the ability to alter them in any way they find suitable. One valid example is the following: there are two teams who, while they both have the same odds in a sporting event, do not have an equal chance of winning, nor would betting on them deliver equal payouts. This may sound confusing, especially to newcomers! However, this is why we’re going to elaborate further on this subject and list the different types of odds you can face when placing a bet.

True Odds

Depending on a format a certain bookmaker uses for calculating the odds, in an even match, the odds of both teams are around 10/11 or 1.85. These are true odds, which will never be offered by a bookmaker. The reason is simple: whatever the outcome, true odds deprive bookmakers of any profit. Therefore, they take a percentage cut that exceeds 100%. In the section above about slang, this phenomenon is explained under the term “vigorish.”

Shifting Odds

Bookmakers use this strategy when the majority of bettors place their wagers on heads instead of tails. They enhance the odds for tails and decrease them for heads, which is how they encourage bettors to bet on tails. As a result, they diminish the risk and gain profit.

Taking the Last Chance

There is a term “wagering on a moving line.” This refers to placing money just before the beginning of a sporting event. Occasionally, you may even happen to have the opportunity to wager after the game has begun! Such money wagering is known as live betting.

No Action

Since all sporting events depend on certain conditions such as the weather, it sometimes happens that an event is canceled or postponed. In such cases, bookmakers ought to cancel all the wagers and return the money to the gamblers.

Cover the Spread

Just as you might choose to cover the spread when you engage in this activity, you must cover all the areas before you do. Sports betting is an expanding industry, which is why it comprises a wide range of information you need to know about  if you find it interesting.

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