Spread Betting - Part 2

The Bookmaker
A bookmaker, otherwise known as a bookie, is a person or organization that takes bets and pays winnings depending on results and on the nature of the bet (the odds). Some bookmaking is legal, some illegal and it may be regulated. At times bookmaking was both illegal and regulated in the United Kingdom so licences were required but no debts arising from gambling could be enforced through court. Bookmaking in the United states is illegal except for Nevada.

In countries like Canada and Singapore, the only legal bookmaker is state-owned and operated. In Canada, this is part of the lottery program and is known as Sports Select.

Where the USA bookmakers mainly bet on college and professional sports, the UK's bookies offer a wider range of bets, mostly on political elections. You can also bet on whether or not it will snow on Christmas in the UK.

Bookmakers aim to guarantee a profit by achieving a 'balanced book'. They do this by adjusting the odds in their favor or having a point spread. The bookie will also try to get an equal number of bets for each outcome, or (when offering odds) by getting the amounts wagered on each outcome to reflect the odds. To protect himself when a large bet comes in, a bookmaker will buy bets from other bookmakers. Bookmakers try to profit from an event no matter the outcome. They usually do not try to make money themselves.

In the past the only place to find a bookie was at the race course but now with improved tv coverage and laxer laws betting in shops and casinos is accepted in most countries. In the UK, bookies still chalk up the odds on boards beside the race course and use tic tac to signal the odds between their staff and to other bookies.

Harold Macmillan's Conservative Government legalized betting shops in 1961. With the legalization came tough measures to ensure that bookmakers stayed honest. Since that time, a large and respectable industry has grown. At one time there were close to 15 000 betting shops in the UK but due to consolidation, there are now closer to 8 500. At this time there are three major bookmakers in the UK, William Hill Ladbrokes (part of the Hilton group) and Coral.

More and more we are seeing punters turn to the use of betting exchanges which automatically match Back and Lay bets between different bettors which will cut out the bookmakers traditional profit margin. Some bookies use betting exchanges as a way of laying off unfavorable bets thus, reducing their overall exposure. There are also some who set up illegal books in an attempt to make some money.

Point Shaving
When a perpetrator tries to fix a match score and prevent a team from covering a published point spread, they are said to be a part of point shaving. Sports betting invariable motivates point shaving and often involves a sports gambler and one or more players on a sports team. The player or players agree that they will not cover the point spread, in exchange for a bribe. When the bribe is accepted, the gambler wages against the team.

Point shaving occurs most frequently in amateur and collegiate sports because the players are prevented from earning money for their play. In professional sports they players make a lot of money and are therefore, not so easily bribed.

Basketball is often used for shaving points because of the high scoring tempo and the ease by which a player can influence key events. By deliberately missing shots or committing well timed turnovers or fouls, a player can ensure that his team fails to cover the point spread, without causing them to lose the game (or lose so badly the he arouses suspicion). The National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) has a strict zero tolerance policy with respect to gambling activity by its players but some believe it unintentionally encourages point-shaving because of its strict rules regarding amateurism, combined with the large amounts of money wagered on its games.

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