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What Is Bookmaking (Legal Definition: All You Need To Know)

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What does bookmaking mean in simple terms?

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What Is Bookmaking

Bookmarking is the act of receiving people’s money when they bet. 

When a person wins, the bookmaker pays them money. 

This gambling activity involves figuring out odds and giving and paying off bets based on sporting competitions, political contests, and other competitions. 

These days the bookmaking industry produces annual revenue of approximately $17 billion for bookmakers in the United States. 

This amount keeps growing by more or less $1 billion per year. 

Additionally, this profitable activity generates between 100,000 to 125,000 jobs around casinos, bingo, arcades, and betting areas. 

It’s essential to pinpoint that bookmaking operations are legal in the United States only in some states like Nevada, New York, and New Jersey. 

Some casinos work as bookmarkers to promote and accept bets on sporting events. 

In many cases, bookmaking focuses on professional sports like horse racing, baseball, basketball, boxing, and American football. 

Legal bookmakers print morning-line odds in the sports divisions of prominent newspapers throughout the United States. 

Origin of Bookmaking

According to historians, Harry Ogden established the first bookmaker in the 1790s in the United Kingdom. 

He ran his venture from Newmarket Heath racetrack in Suffolk County. 

But even before the 1790s, gambling was always an integral part of society. 

For instance, in Ancient China, there is evidence that a game of opportunity was played using tiles. 

Betting continues to be a critical part of daily life worldwide, especially among wealthy people who bet their money on races, casinos, cards and dice games, etc. 

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Bookmaking Legal Definition

Every jurisdiction can define bookmaking in a specific way.

For example, under Rev. Code Wash. (ARCW) § 9.46.0213, bookmaking is “accepting bets, upon the outcome of future contingent events, as a business or in which the bettor is charged a fee or vigorish for the opportunity to place a bet.” 

It’s the activity of placing bets on several possible outcomes of one event. 

People bet by deciding odds and collecting and paying off bets on events. 

The term “bookmaking” comes from the system of registering money gambled in a ledger or a book. 

In most countries, state-owned or state-supervised organizations are the legal way of bookmaking. 

Pursuant to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, bookmaking was, in most cases, illegal in the United States. 

However, in May 2018, the United States Supreme Court overturned this piece of legislation permitting states to decriminalize the activity. 

Bookmaking Online On Sports 

Online sports betting is possible in the United States and is regulated in most states. 

In states where it is legal to place online bets on sports, residents can place bets for a chance to win the pot. 

Keep in mind that any physically present in the state will have the right to place bets. 

Gambling websites and online bookmakers attract customers by offering promotions and bonuses. 

These sites promote bets on all major events. 

It’s expected that more legal US online sports betting sites will soon be available as long as they comply with the necessary regulations. 

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Bookmaking As A Crime

The law can criminalize bookmaking.

Illegal bookmaking occurs when a person or organization takes bets on something without being officially registered or having the authority to do so. 

Bookmakers commit a crime when they don’t report their earnings and payments to tax identities, as most of their transactions are in cash. 

Also, they lay odds on events that are not licensed for legal gambling. 

Remember, the laws vary significantly depending on where you are. 

It’s also illegal to accept bets on credit. 

In certain jurisdictions, a person can be charged in some place with illegal bookmaking when:

  • Taking profit from laying odds to generate a profit for the bookmaker
  • Putting all or some accepted wagers with other bookmakers to cut loses
  • Carrying more than five gamblers in a day
  • Receiving bets for more than $500 in a day or more than $1,500 in a week
  • Participating in a shared arrangement with two or more individuals to take or receive bets
  • Collecting wagers on both sides on an event at the same point spread

Running an illegal bookmaking business is a crime taken very seriously by law enforcement. 

If a person is found guilty, they can face severe punishment, including fines and jail time. 

That’s why it’s necessary to hire an experienced defense lawyer to fight the charges. 

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What Are Bookmakers

A bookmaker, also referred to as a bookie, is a person or an organization that takes and pays off wagers on sporting events, notably horse racing and other events, at agreed-upon odds. 

They set bets for customers, lay odds, and pay out winnings on the representation of other people. 

The primary responsibility of a bookmaker is to keep balance in the books by arranging the odds to maintain an even number of people gambling on a win or loss. 

Even though many people still consider bookmakers criminals, being one isn’t illegal. 

With the growth of sports gambling, being a bookie is a profitable and legitimate profession. 

But it’s vital to understand that bookmaking and taking bets through a bookmaker is still illegal in some places. 

The status of this activity depends on local laws. 

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How Does a Bookmaker Make Money

Bookmakers make money by charging a fee on their customer’s bets, not placing wagers themselves. 

This transaction fee is commonly known as vigorish or vig for short. 

To make money, bookies must keep the book balance. 

Because if there’s a one-sided bet on a special team or event, the bookmaker can lose money. 

Another way bookmakers earn is by lending money to gamblers. 

Bookies must effectively calculate the odds using statisticians’ teams and develop sophisticated models to guarantee their winnings. 

Usually, they highlight which event the bookmakers consider will win. 

Even though they calculate the risks, unexpected factors might change the odds, like weather, player injuries, and scandals. 

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So there you have it folks!

In a nutshell, the act of bookmaking is the practice of placing bets on different possible outcomes related to a particular event.

For example, many will place bets on sporting games where odds are determined for a certain team to win against another.

The actual term “bookmaking” comes from the practice of keeping track of the bets in, literally, a “book”.

In some jurisdictions, bookmaking is legal while in other jurisdictions, it is illegal.

It’s important that you look up the local laws to ensure that you are complying with the law and you may not engage in potentially criminal activity.

Now that you know what bookmaking means and how it works, good luck with your research!

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Editorial Staffhttps://lawyer.zone
Hello Nation! I'm a lawyer and passionate about law. I've practiced law in a boutique law firm, worked in a multi-national organization and as in-house counsel. I've been around the block! On this blog, I provide you with golden nuggets of information about lawyers, attorneys, the law and legal theories. Enjoy!


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