Bookmakers, bookies, or turf accountants (which term you use depends on where you are) are the first point of contact for people who want to bet on an event’s outcome but don’t necessarily want to set up their own gambling operation. They’re essentially just a way for people who want to place bets on something to do so without having to worry about the logistics of collecting and distributing the money. Bookmakers take any number of bets, ranging from simple sports wagers to more complicated political elections and corporate or financial events. They can also be called on by customers who have heard about a good opportunity for betting but want someone else to do the groundwork for them—for example, if you heard that a horse was sure to win in a certain race but you don’t know how to bet on horses.
When you’re betting on a horse race or a sporting event, you’re not just placing your bet—you’re also making a prediction. When you’re placing that bet with a bookmaker, you have to take into account whether or not they will have the resources available to pay out on your winnings if the outcome happens to go your way. A large bettor could get the same odds as one of those smaller-time bettors, but since he’s betting so much more money, he might have a better chance of winning. The bookmakers have to ensure that they can pay out no matter what happens. If they’re offering 5/1 odds on your favorite horse, it’s because they expect that there are enough other people who are willing to bet against him that they’ll be covered in the case of his loss. It’s important to keep in mind that there’s nothing wrong with getting good odds—it’s the bookmakers’ job to offer them in order to make money and encourage people to put their money in. With odds like these, it becomes more important than ever to research the horses and decide which one has the best chance of winning.