The best sports bookies in the US – how do they make their living?

Sports betting is a fast-growing pastime in the US. Although it might not have been legally possible previously, the US Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling around PASPA meant that individual states are now able to set their own laws around this activity. As a result, states such as New Jersey and New York have passed legislation to legalize betting on sports within their borders.


The appeal of sports betting is perfectly understandable when you dig deeper into it. It not only brings more fun into following your favorite team but makes matches more exciting to watch and gets you closer to the action. Modern sports betting is also more convenient than ever, due to top US online sportsbooks making it possible to bet from home. Mobile betting apps also make it simple to bet on the move, wherever you are.


Whether it is online sportsbooks or mobile apps, it is the bookies that are at the heart of sports betting. But how exactly do they make their living? 


How do bookies make money?


Before we look into the nuts and bolts of what bookmakers do each day, it is first worth thinking about how they make money. This is, of course, key to them making a living and being able to carry on operating. After all, any tips for a successful business will put generating revenue right at the top! 


In short, it all comes down to them taking more in losing bets from punters than they pay out in winning bets. If the bookies get this balance right, they can cover their own losses while still making a good profit. 


But what specific things do bookmakers do each day to make a living? 


Analyzing upcoming games, bouts and races


One of the most important tasks any bookmaker will do every day is analyze the betting markets and any upcoming matches, races, fights or games. This enables them to get a handle on who could win and set odds accordingly. 


In practice, modern bookmakers (especially the bigger brands such as William Hill or bet365) have teams of expert sports betting analysts to do this for them. As well as staff to analyze events coming up that day, bookies will also employ analysts to research future matches or games. This analysis is usually done as a full-time job, so multiple hours are spent on this every day. 


But what sort of things do sportsbooks look at when conducting this research? The most common are prior form, head-to-head data, home/away advantage, historical precedents, injury/team news and what the general feeling is around the industry as to who could win. 


Setting odds 


Probability is a concept most of us understand and also helps us get a grip on how sports betting odds work. All bookies will have a good knowledge of these things too, because setting odds is crucial to them. 


After they have established a good overview of what might happen in any match or race, they will then look at what odds to offer. This is a critical part of daily life for bookies and how they make a living. We have already noted that making sure they come out in profit at all times is vital for them – the odds they give enables this to happen. 


But how is this possible? In simple terms, it sees bookies adjust their odds for each outcome to include a profit margin. Once they have worked out the actual odds for an event (such as Liverpool beating Norwich in soccer), they will then adjust them to ensure they always make money. 


Reacting to market moves 


All bookies will focus on reacting to what the market is doing, in order to make a living. They may, for example, set certain odds pre-game but then find them to be inaccurate once the action is under way. If, for example, they give +1000 for Norwich to beat Liverpool, and Norwich are 3-0 up with 10 minutes to go, they would be paying out huge amounts come full time. To prevent this, they will constantly check what is happening in any game and what people are betting on, before adjusting their odds.


Making a living as a bookmaker 


When you add in delivering excellent customer service and focusing on robust online security, it becomes clear what goes into making a living as bookmaker in the modern world. Although it might look easy, it actually takes a lot of hard work and dedication. This is great news for sports bettors, though, because it means we have plenty of top sportsbooks to bet with, which are safe, fun to use and well run. 


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