How Does Sportsbook Work?

How Does Sportsbook Work?
How Does Sportsbook Work?

Where to begin?

Perhaps the easiest thing is to start by the basics, a sportsbook, whether it is a physical sportsbook or an online sportsbook, is basically a company that accepts bets from sports bettors. The sportsbook offers a list of upcoming sporting events and different options on how to bet on the outcome of the same.

So for example, if the NFL season is taking place, the sportsbook will offer its clients the chance to bet on each of the games scheduled, generally bettors can gamble on which team will win a specific game, or the total score of a game, there are also what are called “props” or “prop bets” (short for proposition bets), which are nothing but wagers on an individual player or specific event, for instance, “Who will be the first player to score a touchdown on X game”. Future bets are also an alternative, basically when players are offered the opportunity to bet on the potential outcome of a championship, such as “Who will win the 2019-2020 Superbowl”.

The number of sporting events offered by a sportsbook or the different alternatives offered to bet on each event really depend on each company, some aspects can play a role on this, for instance, the size of the sportsbook, the knowledge of their line makers, and even the software they use.  

A sportsbook makes money thanks to what is known in the industry as the juice or vig which is simply said, the cut charged by the company or bookie to offer the service.

How Does This Work?

The juice is the difference between what a bettor has to wager and what that wager pays back, this depends on the type of bet and line, but to give the most common example, if I want to bet on the Patriots to win with a regular spread I will be required to risk say $110 to win $100, in other words for every $1.10 wagered the bettor can win $1. The juice is adjusted depending on the probability of an outcome or how much money is being wagered on aside.

It’s a numbers game, the sportsbook tries to get as close action as possible on each side of a game in order to then win a percentage after all the payouts through the juice. 

Both physical sportsbooks and online sportsbooks nowadays use a software platform to take the action, from their clients, granted, this aspect is of utmost importance for online sportsbooks since the clients themselves are the ones using the platform to place the bets, therefore it must be friendly and simple to use.

The difference between using a physical sportsbook or an online service to place your bets has to do with legality and convenience. Bookmaking in the United States, for instance, is highly regulated, it is only legal to bet on some states, even though there is legislation that will allow this to change in the very near future, at this point it is still illegal in most states. So, this has caused sports bettors to look for alternatives, and this is where offshore sportsbooks come in the picture, these sportsbooks are in countries where their activities are regulated, and some are willing to take action from clients located in the United States. Legal physical sportsbooks in the United States pay taxes and customers, of course, are protected being a regulated business. Offshore sportsbooks pay taxes in their jurisdiction.

Online sportsbooks are very convenient since they allow bettors to place their wagers from anywhere and at any time using their mobile phone, computer or tablet. These companies rely heavily on their reputation, big online sportsbooks have maintained throughout the years by running tight businesses, offering good service, fast payouts, secure websites, etc.

How Does a Sports Betting Site Work?

As we mentioned before, online sportsbooks operate under the same principles as physical sportsbooks, they offer lines on different sporting and non-sporting events, in order to do this they have to use a specially designed software, there are several options in the market, some sportsbooks have costume designed their own software, but the vast majority pay a selected software company, the options vary some are more geared towards the European market while others cater more to the bettors from North and South America, mainly due to the format of the lines they handle, the sport options they offer, etc.

The software choice is very important for a sportsbook since much of their business depends on the quality of the same. Equally important is their technology infrastructure, a good software requires good equipment to run properly, sportsbooks need to invest heavily on this to ensure a smooth operation with no service interruptions, we need back-ups and redundancy and a strong security system where client information is stored”, explained a representative of

Excellent customer service, line movers, processing of deposits and payments are key components on any successful sportsbook, the only way a sportsbook stays in business is by always being a step ahead on terms of technology and service to its clients, it’s a very demanding industry”, continued the rep. is what is called a pay-per-head service (PPH), basically a sportsbook that offers its services to bookies that require their own websites to handle their clients. In other words, PPH services offer their platform and a complete turnkey solution to bookie agents to operate their business, in return their get a weekly payment per active player.

Most online sportsbooks today also offer online casino services, virtual and live, as well as poker or live betting software in sporting events.

We have now covered all the basics on how a sportsbook works, now the rest is up to you. If you are just getting started in using online sportsbooks, we suggest you do your share of research, there is plenty of information on reputable books and those that you need to watch out for.

Start small to try out their pay per head services, especially their payouts, and always compare the quality and reliability of each, test their system during crunch time and ask all the questions you need to their customer service staff.