Here at BossAction we want to see your online sportsbook & gaming succeed.

Are you looking to get into one of the most exciting, fun, profitable, and HOT industries on the planet?

We’re often asked, “How do I start a bookie service?” Over the years, we’ve compiled a list of basic information about starting an online sportsbook and providing a bookie service. Now you too can become a part of the pay per head (PPH) bookie revolution.

What is a bookie?

“Bookie” is the slang word for a bookmaker. A bookie is someone who takes bets from individuals on sporting events, much like a stock broker takes money from clients to buy and trade stocks. Bookies provide sports betting services. They provide a place where sports bettors can make wagers.

After reading through this document, you will find exactly how easy it is for you to start your own sportsbook business and sports bookie journey.

What does it take to be a bookie?

A successful bookmaker has a few key characteristics; if you can tick off the following, you might be a very successful bookie:

  • You’re good with numbers
  • You’re organized
  • You have a healthy constitution for risk (if you play the stock market, this could be you)
  • You’re passionate about sports and keep up on the latest news
  • You’ve got some start up cash to cover your overhead
  • You understand sports wagering; or, you are willing and able to learn
  • You understand that being a bookie means working weekends and holidays

Old School Bookmaking is Dead

Although negative connotations about the word “bookie” remain, the pay per head industry is quickly destroying those cultural associations. In the past, the word “bookie” implied shady, backroom, cigar-filled places. In these cigar-filled places, Soprano-like characters took wagers over the phone. Sometimes, underage runners handed them a piece of paper detailing a specific bet.

The bookie notated plays. They handed a confirmation piece of paper to the runner. The runner ran the piece of paper back to the bettor. If bookies didn’t use this method, they used the telephone.

Pay per head has opened up the sports betting industry to individuals who never dreamed of becoming a bookie. It’s no longer the 20th century and gambling is far more widely seen as entertainment than before. The average Joes of the world can enjoy betting. Some of these average Joes run their own online sportsbooks.  

In today’s technologically advanced world, anybody can become a bookmaker. Shady characters in smoke-filled back rooms aren’t the only people who can take wagers and provide other services.

Technology Has Changed the Sportsbook Industry

Technology, especially mobile tech, has changed the online sportsbook industry. Sportsbook software allows individuals to set up turn-key online businesses. They run their businesses while not at their day jobs. Most sportsbooks take place via mobile phones on the go, or during the weekend.

Pay per head allows anybody to run a business. The per head industry is perfect for college graduates looking to pay off their student loan debt. Stay at home moms who wish to make extra income can also benefit. Even former bettors who want to become online bookmakers make perfect pay per head agents.

U.S. Sports Betting Law is Catching Up with Technology

Laws in the United States are catching up with the pay per head revolution. In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act that forbade any state other than Nevada from offering betting services. Until the past, sportsbooks were only legal in Nevada.

Many more states, including New Jersey and Delaware, have already allowed for sportsbooks. If the legal trend continues, most states in the U.S. will eventually allow for legal betting. This trend should only help per head sportsbook operating bookies flourish.

The more the industry can degrade the old school, negative, ideas surrounding bookmaking, the better it will be for everyone in the industry.

How Action Leads to Profit

The goal of any online business is profit. Without profit, online businesses fail. Revenue from sales is great, but profit is what matters most. If a business can’t turn revenue into profit, businesses close. Although bookmakers do act like stock brokers in some ways, they don’t run companies that sell stock.

It’s important to understand the difference. A company that sells stock looks for revenue more than profit because on Wall Street, revenue implies growth. Growth for sportsbook operators comes in the form of profit. For growing companies that sell stock on an exchange, sales are more important than profit. For bookies, profit is more important than sales.

It’s important to understand exactly how you make a profit running an online sportsbook. We’re going to tell you the secret that makes every sportsbook, whether in Las Vegas or not, successful.

No sportsbook makes consistent profit from sports betting.

Did we just give you something to think about? Say it with us, “No sportsbook makes consistent profit from sports betting.”

Sports betting is involved, yes. As a bookie, though, the actual act of betting has nothing to do with making a profit. Bookmakers create profit from service fees, also known as vigorish, vig, or juice. When a bookie allows bettors to make wagers, the bookie is providing services and earns a service fee for that provision.

The profit comes from fees charged to bettors, not the wagers bettors make.

Let’s take the racetrack as an example.

A racetrack runs horse races and provides betting services. The racetrack doesn’t care which horses will win which races. Racetracks take a percentage off every dollar wagered on every horse in every pool. That’s how racetracks make money.

Bookies do the same thing. Bookies make money by taking a fee, a percentage of every dollar wagered. This fee is often 10%, though in some circumstances that percentage can increase. For example, a tight line on the Superbowl might call for a bettor to lay, or risk,  more juice than the typical 10%.

Here’s an example of how this works:

Bettor wagers $100 on Team A to cover the spread against Team B.

We immediately take our 10% fee of $10. That’s our fee for providing the wagering service. If the bettor wins his wager, we pay out $190. If the bettor loses his wager, we keep the $100.

It’s that simple. At this point, you might be wondering, “What if the bettor wins the wager? How do we make a profit if we must pay out the $100?”

That’s an excellent question. Online bookmakers that work with BossAction have access to tools that help them make and keep the profit. One of the tools in their profit-making arsenal is the layoff account.

How the Layoff Account Ensures Bookie Profit

Let’s go back to the racetrack for a moment.

The racetrack doesn’t care which horse wins the race because it takes a fee for providing a wagering service. When the racetrack accepts a wager on a horse to win, they take their fee and then put the rest of the money wagered on the horse into a pool. After the race, the money in the pools is distributed among the bettors that made winning wagers.

Vegas sportsbooks use a similar method. Before getting into the method, it’s important to understand the spread.  

Team A        -3 ½ -110

Team B        +3 ½ -110

In the above example, the spread is the number of points for each team. If a bettor wagers on Team A against the spread, the bettor only wins if Team A beats Team B by at least 4 points. By betting on Team A, the sports bettor is laying 3 ½ points.

If a sports bettor wagers on Team B against the spread, Team B can lose by 3 points or less, and the sports bettors wins. By betting on Team B, the bettor is getting 3 ½ points.

The team that wins against the spread is said to have covered ATS.  Vegas sportsbooks only care about the fee they get for providing betting services. Sportsbooks don’t care if Team A or Team B covers the spread.

Vegas books pocket the fees. Then, they pay off one side of the spread with the losing wagers from the other side of the spread. If the bettor who wagered $100 on Team A won his bet, the sportsbook uses the $100 the player bet on Team B to pay off the player who bet on Team A.

This works for Vegas sportsbooks because of the amount of money they attract on both sides of a spread. It won’t always work for the pay per head agent, which is why online bookie agents have access to a layoff account.

The Layoff Account

The layoff account allows bookies to make consistent profit. With the layoff account, pay per head agents can cut their risk exposure.

Let’s say one of your players bets $5,000 on Oakland to cover the spread against Kansas City. At 10%, the fee for a $5,000 wager is $500. You want to ensure you mustn’t payout on a $5,000 bet. Unfortunately, only $2,500 has been wagered on Kansas City. You have a spread deficit of $2,500. If Oakland wins, your online sportsbook must shell out an extra $2,500 to pay off the winning wager.

The layoff account allows bookies to lay off risk. You could wager $2,500 on Oakland through your lay off account. If Oakland covers, you use the money you won to pay off the $5,000 Oakland wager. If Oakland doesn’t cover, you use $2,500 from the Oakland bettor to bring your layoff account to even.

By using the layoff account, bookies can ensure they profit from wagering fees.    

How to Protect Profit on Futures and Moneylines

The layoff account isn’t the only tool that ensures profit. Bookies should also use the mass editing tool to set max betting limits. Max betting limits ensures online bookies aren’t overexposed.

Philadelphia won the Super Bowl a couple of seasons ago as a pre-season 40/1 choice. A $100 wager on Philadelphia at 40/1 led to a $4,100 payout. By setting a max betting limit on Super Bowl futures to $50, bookies could have cut their exposure from $4,100 to $2,100. Spreads don’t exist for future bets and moneyline bets. It’s important to set max betting limits on all future wagers and moneyline wagers.

A good way to know when to set max betting limits is to use the BetAlert tool. The BetAlert tool pings agents when a wager has been placed. The bookie agent can then use the mass editing tool to set max betting limits.

What’s the Bookie Bankroll?

Every person that wants to be a bookie must understand the bookie bankroll.

All businesses need to have enough cash flow to cover their overhead; obligations such as rent, utilities, payroll, and so forth. A bookie’s main obligation is to make payouts on winning wagers, but also to pay for the bookmaking software they are using.

The bookie collects on losing wagers. The bookie uses those losing wagers to make payouts on winning wagers.

The bookie bankroll is the money that exists outside of the cash that flows from winning and losing bets. When starting out, you must have a bookie bankroll; start-up cash, if you will. The size of your bookie bankroll depends on how aggressive you want to be at attracting players. It also depends on what type of players you wish to provide betting services to.

Casual players don’t bet as much as pro players. If you provide services to a small group of casual players, your bookie bankroll can be around $5,000. If you provide bookie services to pro players, make sure you don’t open for business with less than $10,000 in the till. The more you can put into your bookie bankroll, the better you’ll be able to position yourself as an online bookie.

Remember, using the lay off account you can help ensure profit. You don’t always want to use the layoff account, though.

Ensure you’ve got enough cushion to survive if something out of the ordinary happens. For example, you might forget to set max betting limits on a player that takes advantage of a moneyline.

To ensure against unforeseen events that could put you quickly out of business, you’ll need to put as much as possible into your bookie bankroll before opening for business.

Should You Issue Credit?

It can be scary to issue credit. Credit implies that the player will pay you on losing wagers. It’s scary because players don’t always pay their gambling debts. Sometimes, they pay you, but they don’t pay you as quickly as you’d like.

However, as an individual online bookie, you should consider issuing credit to all your players. Players have options. If they must only play with the money they deposit, they might decide to play through an offshore sportsbook instead of through your sportsbook.

Issuing credit mustn’t be scary. It can be controlled. One of the tools available to BossAction agents is the settle alert tool. The settle alert tool allows agents to create a pre-settle. The pre-settle pings the agent when they must collect.

This ensures two things. First, it helps prevent players from owing you too much money. If players owe you too much money, you might have to cut them off. By creating a settle alert, this helps players manage their bankrolls. That ensures they can continue to wager.

Second, a pre-settle keeps bookies from having to chase down players for payment. The settle alert pings online bookies before a player must settle. This always keeps both player and per head agent ahead.

Bookies can also use the settle alert tool to ping before they must payout. This prevents bookies from having to make massive payouts at once.

Using the Agent Payment System

An online sportsbook is a unique business. Although that’s true, in many ways running a sportsbook is just like running any business. All businesses rely on the flow of cash. Cash is king for every business in every industry.

To start hoarding cash, you must first get a healthy cash flow going. Knowing this, the software developers at BossAction created the Agent Payment System.

A first of its kind in the sportsbook industry, the Agent Payment System (APS) allows bookies to quickly make payouts and collections. It also allows players to make quick deposits. This speeds up your flow of cash.

Eventually, a bookie using the APS receives much more cash than it pays out. Once this happens, the online bookie can then start hoarding cash just like everyone’s favorite tech company.

What makes BossAction’s Agent Payment System so unique isn’t that it just allows for quicker payouts, player deposits, and collections. It’s that it allows agents to perform payouts and collections in both fiat and cryptocurrencies.  

Cryptocurrencies are popular in the sports betting industry. Crypto deposits, payouts, and collections, happen much quicker than when we use fiat currency and there is a level of discretion involved that one doesn’t find with credit card processing or traditional bank transfers..

That speeds up the flow of cash. Once pay per head agents get a nice cash flow going, they can start building their bankroll. That’s the main key to becoming a successful bookie. Some might believe it’s to manage wagers, accept bets, and use the layoff account.

The real key to success is to start with a bankroll of cash, to try and never dig into that bankroll, and to eventually build on that bankroll. The Agent Payment System helps agents develop healthy cash flow. Bookies that don’t use the APS are at a disadvantage.

The BossAction Dashboard

So far, we’ve answered the question, “How do I start a bookie service?”. We’ve also discussed how bookmaking works. We’ve even discussed the most often used tool, the Agent Payment System, which separates BossAction online bookie agents from other online bookie agents.

With all of that in the rearview mirror, let’s delve deeper into the nuts and bolts. BossAction agents have a huge advantage over other per head agents because of the BossAction dashboard.

You might believe that all pay per head dashboards are the same. In many ways, they are. What makes the BossAction dashboard unique is that it allows agents to display 15+ different reports. This means bookies that partner with BossAction can display bookmaking reports most important to them.

All BossAction generated reports provide actionable information. Actionable information is information that C-level executives use to make important decisions. You’re the CEO of your company. Your goal will be to increase your cash flow so that you can increase the cash in your bankroll.

One way to do that would be to use the information you glean from BossAction reports on your dashboard to make key decisions. A key decision might be to set up a schedule limit override on a specific game, set max betting limits on a specific wager, or to market something like NASCAR to turn it into a revenue stream.

You won’t know what important decision to make unless you get information from reports.

Bookies that start out should pay attention to the wagers report. The wagers report details a breakdown by business unit. A business unit for bookies are the actual sports: football, basketball, baseball, etc.

Not only does the wagers report show a breakdown by business unit, but it also allows bookmakers to delete bets directly from the report. Bookies starting out must be aware of large wagers that can cripple their companies. The best way to prevent this from happening is to delete large, risky, wagers.

It’s best to delete first and then explain to the player why you deleted their wager. Just say you are starting out with your business and aren’t ready to accept such large wagers at this time. If you’ve issued the player credit, they will understand. If not, that’s okay.

You must always make decisions based on the effect it will have on your company. Savvy sports bettors will try to take advantage of you. Don’t let that happen. Think first of how the decision will affect your business before making that decision.

BossAction 24/7 Customer Service

BossAction provides 24/7 customer service to every bookie that partners with it. The customer service team is available to any bookie agent no matter how many clients they serve. Any question any BA bookie has can be answered by the BossAction customer service team.

Are You Ready to Become an Online Bookie?

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our How to Be a Bookie guide. When you’re ready, call a BossAction customer service representative at 800-339-4108.  Likewise, you can sign up for a demo now.

We have no doubt that you can become a successful bookie. Give us a call. We look forward to helping you on your bookmaking journey.  

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