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Different Types of Bookmakers

Different Types Of Bookmaker

Even those who have never placed a wager before in their life are probably still aware of the fact that doing so requires the services of a bookmaker. What you might not know, however, is that there are several different types of bookmakers. In this article we’re going to cover the types you’ll most likely come across.

All bookmakers fundamentally fulfill the same role, so to some extent it doesn’t matter which type you use. It’s worth pointing out, however, that some types do offer certain advantages. We would also like to point out that not all types of bookmakers are available in all parts of the world. Retail bookmaking shops, for example, aren’t legal in every region. So these might not be an option for you, depending on where you live.

The types of bookmakers covered on this page are as follows.

  • Moneylines
  • Racecourse Bookmakers
  • Retail Bookmaking Shops
  • Casino Based Sportsbooks
  • Telephone Betting Services
  • Online Bookmakers

Racecourse Bookmakers

Racecourse bookmakers are perhaps the most traditional type of bookmaker. You’ll find them at horse racing and dog racing tracks all over the world, usually grouped together in what’s known as the betting circle. Things are slightly different at US tracks, where it’s more common to see a venue handle all on-course bets by themselves.


A typical betting circle at an English racecourse.

Many racecourse bookmakers are small, independent bookmakers that typically employ just two or three people. Rather than base themselves at one single venue, they tend to travel around to wherever the action is, so they can be open for business nearly every day. They usually have to pay a fixed fee at each venue they visit, and during major events the fees can be enormous. This has increasingly become a problem for many of the smaller operations in some regions, as they operate on much smaller margins than the large betting companies who have on-course pitches as just one part of their business.

A day at the races wouldn’t be complete without first making a stop at a nearby racecourse bookmaker. Although these days there’s a more convenient option for placing wagers than waiting in line to hand over your cash, as we’ll explain later. We still believe that it’s the best way to bet when actually at a track, however.

These types of bookmakers generally only take bets for the races specifically being ran at the relevant track.

Retail Bookmaking Shops

Retail bookmaking shops are bookmakers in their most traditional form, in some countries at least. They certainly are in the United Kingdom and Ireland, where you’ll find hundreds of them in towns and cities throughout the region. They’re typically referred to as “high street bookies,” and these days, most of them are operated by major brands. There used to be a lot of smaller independent shops too, but the majority of these have been swallowed up by the larger chains.

To give you an idea of just how dominant these large chains are, here’s a list of the biggest operators and the number of shops they have.

William Hill William Hill


Landbrokes Ladbrokes:


coral Coral:


betfred BetFred:


Bookmaking shops aren’t unique to the United Kingdom though, as they’re also found in other countries. They’re quite prevalent in Europe, for example, and also in Australia and New Zealand. In Australia there are other retail betting options too, as many pubs and hotels have betting offices. These aren’t something you’d come across in the United States, however, as these types of facilities are considered to be illegal.

Most retail betting outlets deal solely in cash. After you pay the cashier the appropriate amount of money for your wager, they will give you a ticket. If your wager wins, you’ll be able to exchange that ticket for your payout. These outlets typically cover a wide variety of sports events, and most places will be able to quote odds for pretty much any market you could possibly want to bet on.

Casino Based Sportsbooks

We just mentioned how there are no retail bookmaking shops in the US. In place of that, they have casino based sportsbooks. The terms sportsbook and bookmaker are interchangeable in our opinion, Sportsbooks can typically be found in the casinos of Las Vegas, Nevada, but there’s always the possibility of running into them in other US cities and states too.

A casino-based sportsbook is very similar to a high street bookie, although we put them on a much grander scale. The biggest ones have amazing venues, with dozens of large screen televisions and many other screens that display the current odds for various betting markets. There are usually two options for placing wagers. The more tradition method would be to use a, “betting window,” where you’ll have the opportunity to talk to an employee face to face. An alternative method would be to use an interactive betting station where everything is handled electronically.

Casino Sportsbook

Casino sportsbooks represent one of the few fully legal ways for US residents to bet on sports.

Telephone Betting Services

Many bookmakers around the world offer telephone betting services, and these used to be one of the most popular ways to bet. Now, they are second best to the increasingly popular online betting option. Although they aren’t as widespread as they once were, they are still readily available in most areas.

The basic concept of these services is very straightforward. When you call the relevant bookmaking firm, you’ll be connected to an operator. After you tell the operator what wagers you want to place and how much you want to stake, they’ll confirm the odds and then take your payment. Payment is typically made using a credit card or debit card, with any winnings paid directly back to the card originally used. Some companies may offer alternative options for payment, including credit accounts.

Online Bookmakers

The final type of bookmaker we would like to cover would be an online bookmaker. Online bookmakers, or online betting sites, have been taking bets over the internet since the mid-1990s, and they have steadily increased in popularity over the last couple of decades.

Initially, many people were skeptical about placing real money wagers over the internet. We can understand why, as this was the first time they had even heard of some of these companies, and some sites did prove themselves to be more than a little sketchy. These days, though, the online betting industry is dominated by reputable and trustworthy operators. There are still some sites that we recommend avoiding, but these are far and few between. Web based bookmakers have now become the number one options for many sports bettors all over the world.

Important Advice

If you currently bet online, or are thinking of doing so, it’s important to be selective in terms of which betting sites you use. Most sites are perfectly trustworthy, as we’ve just explained, but they’re not all of the same standard. If you want the best possible online experience, you should really consider a number of key factors before choosing where to bet. An alternative is to use one of our recommendations.

Best Sports Betting SitesAs recommended by GamblingSites.com

There are several advantages to using online bookmakers over the other types mentioned on this page, with the most obvious reason being the convenience factor. All you need is a computer or any device with internet access to place wagers anytime you want. There are several ways to fund an online betting account and cash out any winnings. Surprisingly, the whole process is usually very simple.

The odds available online are generally very competitive, and the amount of sports events you have to choose from is incredible. There’s a myriad of different betting options too, including the ability to bet on events while they are taking place, which is often referred to as live betting, or in play betting.

Another big advantage of betting online is that most sites offer their customers bonuses on their first deposits, and additional rewards based on their betting activity. These can be very valuable, and are a great way to give your betting bankroll a little boost.

For anyone interested in betting on sports, we would recommend doing so online. It’s the simplest and overall best way to place your wagers.