Friday, June 24, 2005

An Overview Of Bookmaking

Bookmaking is a interesting facet of the gambling world. A bookie is the nickname for a person whose job consists of bookmaking. Bookmaking itself actually refers to the process of taking and organizing bets from different people. The bookmaker still has an important –though varied—role in the world of gambling.

The Bookie

The bookie helps to take bets from people about a particular event that is set to occur. Depending on the results of that event, the bookie may pay out the dividends from that bet. Bookmaking has evolved through many different stages, and at times bookmaking has been illegal, legal, and then back to being illegal again. The status of bookmaking, in fact, really depends on the country in which the bookie is located. For example, bookmaking is illegal in just about every U.S. state except for Nevada. In Canada, bookmaking is supported by the state but is illegal otherwise.

Most bookies take bets on college and professional sports. However, they may also take bets on events like races, elections, and even odder bets. The tendency to bet on a certain type of event or sport, like football, for example, depends on the geographical location of the bookie taking bets.

The bookie will try to adjust the odds after taking bets for a certain event. In this way, he can try to make a profit not off the bets themselves but off the event. As with other facets of gambling, bookmaking can be rife with scams and cheats. If you want to place a bet on an event with a bookie, make sure you are doing so in a state or country where the practice is legal. Participating in illegal bookmaking is not only troublesome, but you also risk losing your money through unsavory practices.

Bookmaking can certainly be an exciting way to try to make some money, but betting successfully takes knowledge of bookmaking in general and what goes on when people place their bets with a bookie. Arming yourself with information about the subject is the best way to have a better chance at success.

Bookmaking: Betting Odds

Bookmakers make much of their profit off traditional bets including sports betting and betting on the outcome of a political election. Yet, many bookies –from individuals to large bookmaking firms—also take bets off a different sort. These bets are off the beaten path and are certainly fascinating to study, as bookies find there are people in the world willing to place a bet on just about anything and everything.

Fascinating Events

As mentioned, people can place their money on just about any event that is going to have a certain outcome. Bookies can take advantage of people’s tendency to want to predict the outcome of particular events and by doing so can really bank on these events. What was formerly something considered weird or odd to bet on may now be considered a normal part of every day life.

One of the most popular odd bets in the United Kingdom involves people from all over placing wagers about whether it will snow on Christmas day. Since everyone is “dreaming of a white Christmas,” whether it will snow can become a heated source for betting – as betting on this type of event can all be in good fun.

Other fascinating bets people have placed include wagering on who will be the next pope. After the pope in office passes away, the people responsible for choosing his successor vote secretly to determine who will succeed him. This type of wagering has been going on for years and the switching of the popes is a popular event to bet on.

Some bookies have even seen bets on whether former President Clinton would be impeached or not. To top that off, after a space mission in previous years, several hundred bets were taken about whether the former president would admit intelligent life from another planet had ever landed on earth –an odd bet, indeed.

Bookies have also seen innocuous –though contentious—bets on such subjects as whether the more recent Star Wars movie will beat other movie blockbusters in the theater. Certainly people may be willing to place their bets on just about any type of event available.

How To: Be A Bookie

Watch Sports And Take Bets As Your Job

Get Action
If Uncle Sal isn’t able to show you the ropes from the state pen, you can get an easy start by offering to “sub-book” for a pro bookie during the summer. Some of them shut down after the NCAA tournament and don’t reopen until football season because they hate taking action on baseball—it means working seven days a week. So you can offer to use a bookie’s client list in return for doing all the work and giving him half your profits. Don’t like those odds? Strike out on your own. When taking a bet—try to do business over the phone—agree on what the guy currently owes you or is owed by you, write down his new bet, and repeat it back to him. Tabulate results on ESPN. It’s like being an athlete, without the exercise!

Get Money
Set it up correctly and you’ll be assured of making money thanks to the vig, a 10 percent “fee” bookies collect on all losing bets. If you do it right, with a total of $1,000 wagered on each side of a betting line, you end up paying out evenly—but thanks to the vig, you net $100. “Theoretically, our goal is always the 50-50 split,” explains Mark Goldman, director of Race & Sports at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas. Check the spreads on sites like DonBest.com, then adjust the odds to local favorites; if you live in Detroit, give bad odds to the lowly Tigers and Lions because fans will still bet on them. If a guy doesn’t pay up, you’re not supposed to break his legs. Instead, work out a payment plan—how does 80 percent interest sound?

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State of the Offshore Gaming Industry

Q & A with
Dalton Wagner, Founder V.O. Group, S.A.

As Founder and Proprietor of V.O. Group, S.A., Dalton Wagner has the reputation of making one-dollar work like three in online marketing. With formidable competition, Mr. Wagner founded V.O. Group, S.A. in 1998 and has quickly risen to be one of the largest offshore operators in the world with over 50,000 active clients. We had an opportunity to catch up with Dalton Wagner on his last visit to Antigua.

Vegas Offshore: This year has been interesting for V.O. Group, S.A. and the offshore industry as a whole (advertising changes, etc.). How do you feel about the industry at the current time?
Wagner: I feel the industry is as strong as it has ever been. We are still finding that our advertising is bringing us new clients at an ever-growing rate. Some competitors are complaining that the crimp on advertising is affecting the industry, but we are not seeing this trend. Consolidation within the industry has begun, and I am sure you will continue to see smaller competitors gobbled up, and medium to larger companies merging. The weaker will go by the wayside.

Vegas Offshore: What about the rumors of V.O. Group, S.A. being bought?
Wagner: I am glad you used the term 'rumors'. The fact is that in July 2004 three suitors approached V.O. Group, S.A. because of our record-breaking profit year. In two of the cases we did see 'value' in a merger/relationship. However, at the end of the day, we could not come to terms that were agreeable on both sides. At this time V.O. Group, S.A. stands independent. And, we are happy being independent, profitable and growing.

Vegas Offshore: It is rumored that Bet On Sports (PLC; BSS.L) was one of the suitors. Is that true?
Wagner: There were three suitors that approached V.O. Group, S.A. And, in all cases confidentiality agreements were signed. For this reason, I cannot confirm or deny who any of the potential suitors were. What I can tell you is that one was a major sportsbook player, one was a major casino player and two were PLCs. I doubt that helps.

Vegas Offshore: Well, if Bet On Sports was involved, I bet you are happy you weren't involved in their November 24, 2004 stock debacle.
Wagner: The Bet On Sports stock debacle was an over-reaction by the market in my opinion. In one day you saw their stock drop 50% in value. And, the reason was poor performance in a very short period. If you looked at the other publicly held offshore gaming companies, you saw the same thing, just not as drastic as with BSS.L. Simply put, I know the founder of Bet On Sports, I know the management of Bet On Sports, I know the staff at Bet On Sports and I would not hesitate to invest in Bet On Sports. They were, and still are, undervalued in my opinion. They are a great competitor and a great company. I wish I had some of their stock at the new adjusted price. I just don't see how you can lose.

Vegas Offshore: It is rare to hear the 'competition' speaking so highly of a major competitor. Why would you do so?
Wagner: Simple. Bet On Sports is a great company. And, I am sure they would tell you the same about V.O. Group, S.A. The fact is, that there are companies out there that make our industry stronger. And, ones that make it weaker. Bet On Sports and V.O.Group, S.A. strive to make our industry stronger and more legitimate on a daily basis (as do BetCris.com; BoDog.com; etc.). What kind of ambassador for the industry would I be if I downplayed a 'good' competitor like Bet On Sports for my own benefit?

Vegas Offshore: If Bet On Sports did approach you, would you consider a merger?
Wagner: I like being independent. But, simply put, NEVER say NEVER.

Vegas Offshore: What of the rumors that you are looking at Panama as a potential relocation site?
Wagner: Our operation currently has offices in Costa Rica, Antigua and Belize. In Costa Rica we currently have over 400 employees. With employment costs in Costa Rica on the rise, the burden of Caja and the ever-changing political climate, we have looked at several alternative locations. One of the most desirable is/was Panama. However, due to the massive failure of BetPanAm.com and the political debacle involving their past gaming commission, we have decided to stay put for the current time. I think it is very safe to say that our primary location will be Costa Rica for the next 5 years. Pending any crazy licensing or governmental changes.

Vegas Offshore: I have visited your office in Antigua, however had no idea that you employed 400 individuals in Costa Rica. Why do you need such a large staff?
Wagner: Our industry has a reputation for being lazy and getting by on a shoestring budget. Most sportsbooks, casinos, racebooks and poker rooms answer phones when it is convenient and buy computers when the ones they are operating blow-up. Most are simply embarrassing to the legitimate operators. To run an operation like ours, servicing 50,000 bettors, you need lots of space, a 1st rate phone system, fiber and satellite phone and Internet backups, IT professionals, accounting professionals, etc. V.O. Group, S.A. is currently located in 35,000 square feet of space, operating 24-hours a day, 365 days a year, and we are busting at the seems. At the current time, we are negotiating to buy the building next to us for future expansion. I think we will employ 600 people come this same time next year.

Vegas Offshore: I have noticed that you are still branching into other products. How has this strategy worked for V.O. Group, S.A.?
Wagner: In 1998 we started with our sports product. We then branched into the casino product. In 2001 and 2002 we opened several major race books and poker rooms. The fact is that we are profitable in all products. However, our core product, and hub for our advertising, is focused on the sports product. The strategy has worked, but we will not desert our core product. You can look for our re-launch of interactive betting in early 2005 and bingo in mid 2005.

Vegas Offshore: What other changes do you see in 2005 for V.O. Group, S.A.
Wagner: I think you will see V.O. Group, S.A. work more on our Internet interface to make it more gamer-friendly; you will see our company move into land-based gaming; and you will see us acquire two or three smaller competitors. Rather, you will see what you have always seen, expansion.

Vegas Offshore: What other changes do you see in 2005 for the industry as a whole?Wagner: The strong will get stronger. The weak will get weaker. And, the acquisition race will be on.