Rules and Guidelines of Bookmaking

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:

You’re not going to find a book listing out rules of bookmaking. There are some rules you should be aware of, which we’ll touch on, and we’ll also list some bookmaking guidelines.

First off, we’re not here to give anyone legal advice and frankly we couldn’t as our readers reside in countries around the world and the laws vary by jurisdiction. We’ll leave it up to you to learn your local laws to find out the rules about booking real money wagers.

There are countries where you can set-up an offshore sportsbook without consequence, but there are also countries where it isn’t legal. You’ll have to decide how much risk you’re willing to accept in operating your business. Many local bookies operate under the radar for decades.

There are some bookmaking guidelines that we want all beginners to learn. Consider these before you decide whether or not you want to run a bookmaking business.

l  Understanding the Odds/Vig

Essentially, bookmakers make money by setting lines to ensure they have close to a balance book and this is done by adding vig to both sides of a bet. For example, a coin toss offers a 50% chance of winning or losing. You would never make money if you offered even money odds on this bet.

If you took $1000 in bets ($500 on heads and $500 on tails) at even money odds (+100) on a coin toss, you would end up taking in $1000 in bets, but paying out $1000 and making zero money. Now if you added $.10 vig to heads and tails (-110/-110 odds) and accepted $500 in bets on heads and $500 on tails again, you would take in $1000, but only payout $954.50, ensuring profit on the market.

Get the help of an established Pay Per Head Bookie Software like RealBookies

This a quick explanation of how a bookie makes money, but it’s important to understand.

l  Limit Sharp Bettors

A limited number of bookmakers accept sharp action, but you shouldn’t. You should aim to target casual square bettors and avoid letting sharp bettors put you in the red every week.

Even the biggest sportsbooks in the world will limit sharp handicappers that jump on the best lines when they release. It’s important to distinguish sharp handicappers that are long term winners and recreational bettors that are simply on a hot streak, as you don’t want to cut loose recreational bettors that are up on you, as they’re just as likely to go cold and give back all of their winnings.

l  Offer Consistent and Timely Payouts

Offshore bookmakers offer payouts 24/7 and have guidelines on how long processing takes based on the payout method. As a small bookmaker, you can likely set a day to square up with your clients.


Typically, bookies will use Tuesdays to square up. You’ll collect from the players that lost and you’ll also payout the winners from the previous week. Offering consistent and timely payouts is one of the best guidelines to follow if you want to ensure the longevity of your business.

More pay per head tips:

1.     Building a Loyal Betting Base With Pay Per Head Bookie Software

2.     Common Bookie Questions For Pay Per Head Services

3.     Three Key Pay Per Head Tools for Managing Your Betting Board

4.     Capitalizing on the US Sports Betting Craze

5.     Long-Term Business Planning with Pay Per Head

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