Booky: for someone not in familiar with the sports betting industry, the term might sound strange. Well, not exactly. It is a short form used in Australia to refer to a bookmaker. In other countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, the spelling is slightly different (bookie). If you would like to become one, there are certain aspects that are important to consider. Though not formally a prerequisite, an enthusiastic interest in betting is essential. Experience on the ‘buy’ side (here referring to the punters) of any business activity will prove to be an important foundation in charting a successful ‘sell’ side (in this case bookmaking) career for you.
Entry into the industry
It is not difficult to get to be a bookmaker. What might be difficult is becoming a successful one. Ultimately, the bookmaker is in business and it accepting bets can only make sense in the long term if the net result is a profit and not a loss. Of absolute necessity is that one must be over 18 years of age. Many of the well-known bookys of today started by working as a cashier at an established bookmaker and worked their way up the employee chain, building skills and important industry contacts along the way. When it comes to academic qualifications, a high school certificate would be adequate. If you intend to join at a management level, a degree would be preferred. Even further, a degree in general math, statistics and/or business would be given more weight during the short listing process.
For the bigger bookmakers, an entry level exam may be a prerequisite before recruitment and will include a test on numbers and probabilities to see how good you are with calculating event odds. Being a mathematics whiz is not what is expected; just an ability to wrap your mind around a few of the basic calculations. You can polish up your skills by attending an elementary business and math course. Some bookmakers will actually provide the basic training required as long as they are comfortable you’re your understanding of the basics and your potential to grow in skill. For management positions at a bookmaker, prior people management, sales, marketing, and budget management experience will be important considerations.
There are two types of bookmakers: off-course bookmakers and on-course bookmakers. Off-course bookmakers do the trade through shops or license betting offices. On-course bookmakers are found at horse or dog racetracks work at the actual venue of the event.
If you want to take the independent path directly, the formative months and years may be challenging. A huge plus is that the initial capital outlay required is small when starting as a small operator with license costs likely to take a huge part of it. You will have to spread yourself widely to be able to cover the multiple roles ordinarily handled by multiple persons in even a medium sized bookmaker. This is positive since you will be able to understand every facet of the business, which will prove crucial in supervising staff handling similar tasks as the business grows. Unless of course you have a huge amount of capital at your disposal and can kick off big immediately.
Regardless of the initial scale of operation you intend to undertake, you must get the licensing issues right. This is the best approach to take to avoid falling afoul of the law at the beginning. Seek appropriate advice from established bookmakers to make sure you cover any legal prerequisite before you dive in full throttle. Getting a permit or license is not automatic and one of the factors for consideration will be on whether there is substantial demand for a bookmaker in the area you target. This is why your feasibility study and business plan is important. It provides comfort to you and can support your argument in the event the licensing authority requires further justifying rationale from you on why you should be issued with the license. To be on the safe side, also check for any ordinary premises licenses that may b needed by the local authority to void any surprises in future.
Activities and roles in a Booky Office
The bookmaker is a businessperson. The activities that take place at a booky’s office is not much different from the core elements of any successful business. As you get into the industry especially if establishing a new bookmaker outfit, you must make sure you have each of these roles whether by multiple persons or by persons handling multiple responsibilities. First thing you must do is sort out the cashier role. The bottom line is that the bookmakers business is sometimes cash heavy and the process of receiving the cash will be an important step in the right direction for your front office activities. The cashier would be one to receive the money but could also double up as the person recording the bets to make sure customer transactions are executed as fast as possible and they can go with a confirmation that the bet has been registered. Cashiers would of course be the ones to do the actual payment of winnings and a senior officer could take on the responsibility of balancing the accounts at the end of each day.
The other role required is a sales coordinator. In small bookmakers, this role will fall under the proprietor or chief executive’s docket. Define the sales targets for the short-term, medium-term and the long-term. Having a clear strategy, targets and plan of action is a good motivator for growth as it places every action within the institution within the context of the end objective. Put in place a mechanism for managing customer complaints. This involves assigning someone ultimate responsibility for handling client concerns. Any issues that require more consultation before resolution can be escalated to the chief executive. Finally, there must be a new employee hiring process. If you are not ready for a human resource person immediately, you could have this role reside with the senior most person in the business and then set up a two or three person interview panel drawn from current members of staff to aid in the skills assessment process.