Bookies and agents are terms that are often considered the same. A bookie is someone that will take your bet and pay you if you win (minus his juice or vigorish percentage) or collect from you if you lose. I’ve seen different definitions for sports betting agents, which is where the confusion comes in.
For this article, I will use the definition of an agent as being a bookie that uses pay-per-head betting software platforms. They are still bookies but are paying a company to supply the tools they need to run their business. I will use ‘agent’ and ‘bookie’ interchangeably as the same thing.
Why Does Anyone Need a Bookie or Agent?
To place a bet, you need someone to bet the opposite. You bet a friend that the San Francisco 49ers will beat the Washington Commanders. One of you will win. One will lose. If you have friends willing to make sports bets all the time, then you don’t need sports betting agents. But most people don’t have that luxury.
They want to be able to make a bet on a sports team whenever they want. If they live in Las Vegas or have a casino nearby, they can place the bet on their own. They need to use a bookie if they aren’t close to a sportsbook. There is also the option of betting online directly with a sportsbook like Betfastaction or Fire22.
The bookie takes your bet of the 49ers to beat the Commanders, then tries to find someone who will bet on the Commanders to win. That way, the agent isn’t taking any risk. He makes his money from the juice or vigorish. He’s the middleman who takes a percentage from the winner.
In this example, if Washington won, he would keep the money from the player who bet on San Fran and give it to the guy who bet on Washington, minus the juice he would keep as his payment for his services.
Before the internet, a bookie would take bets on the phone or in person. Once the game was over, he would pay out the winners and collect from the losers.
Now, it’s much more sophisticated. Most bookies are pay per head agents. They use software from a platform provider. This software will include all the tools the agents needs to manage their sports betting business and will most likely have a website for their bettors to go to so they can place their bets.
Some sites even include live streaming games on the same platform, so you can keep betting while watching.
How Does Pay Per Head Work?
Pay per head means that you, as the agent, are paying the software supplier for each ‘player’ or ‘bettor’ that places a wager with you. You only pay for active players per week.
In other words, if you have 25 players using your bookie services, but only ten are betting this week, then you only pay the weekly amount for those ten players. In that week, they can bet as much or as little as they want, and the rate you pay doesn’t change.
As a bookie, you’ll want that player to do the maximum amount of betting during that week to give you the most money for your costs.
What Does a Bookie Software Supplier Provide?
What do you get as a bookie for that weekly price tag? It depends on the bookie software you are using. At a minimum, you should have a management system that gives you reports of your financial status and your players’ money and betting status.
It should also allow you to control your sportsbook’s exposure; set up max limits on players, moneylines, parlays, props, and all other betting types; move lines, and allow which players will get premium services. In short, you should be able to control almost all aspects of the business.
Why Use a Bookie Instead of an Online Sportsbook?
Players often go directly to the online sportsbooks when they begin betting regularly. However, many eventually move away from them and look for online bookies for several reasons: Credit, taxes, and personal service.
Online sportsbooks are set up as programs that run on their own. They won’t give you credit. You pay first; then, you can play. And then you’re taxed on your winnings.
An online sports agent may give you credit depending on how well they know you or how long you’ve been with them. You’ll have their personal contact information to get in touch whenever you need them. And I’m sure they’ll leave it to you in most cases to handle your taxes. In short, a player works with a person, not a company, when they work with a pay per head agent.
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