How Bookmakers Create Sports Odds in the UK

Understanding How Bookmakers Create Sports Odds in the UK

Sports betting is undoubtedly one of the most lucrative betting types in the UK. If you have the knack for watching sports events and want to test your prediction skills, betting on sports with real money may be the best choice for you. However, first, you need some basic knowledge of the sports odds in the UK if you want to maximise your profits.

Now, sports odds indicate how much money you will make if you make the prediction. Odds on sports are different in different sportsbooks because odds are created by the bookmakers.

If you are wondering how bookmakers create sports odds in the UK betting industry, then this is the article for you. Knowing all the details about the behind the scenes will definitely increase your betting performance. It will help you determine how to choose the best bookmaker to gain higher winnings.

Curious to know more? Then you keep scrolling and pay attention till the end.

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Who are Bookmakers?

bookmakers odds

A bookie or bookmaker is someone who facilitates the betting. In sports events, they set odds, place bets, accept wagers, and pay the winnings.

A bookmaker’s job is to make a balance in the books by fixing the odds so that there is a neutral number of people who win and lose. When it comes to online betting platforms, the betting sites themselves work as bookies. They are just as smart as the real-life bookies and are very accurate with their actions.

If you reside in the UK, you will need to look for safe and licensed UK-based betting sites or sportsbooks for enjoying a smooth betting experience. To find one right away, check out our recommended sports betting sites.

What Role do Bookmakers Play in the UK?

Bookmakers have a lot of responsibilities but the most primary one is to feature sports events, offer bets, collect wagers and pay out the winnings.

A bookmaker has to be very careful while distributing the money because the percentage of winning and losing has to be even. The major role of a bookie is to set a line or create the odds which determines the winning potential. If a bookmarker does not create accurate odds then all the parties, including the bettors, will suffer from a great loss.

When it comes to online betting, bookmakers are more cooperative. They will give you the ease of placing bets. Also, odds are online almost 99%-100% accurate. So, if you have a good prediction potential you will win at online betting sites with greater ease.

How Odds Making Started – A Look into the History

Language of odds is just like this phrase ‘ten to one’. This type of language was found in the 16th century first.

In Shakespeare’s drama Henry IV, we find this phrase:

‘’Knew that we ventured on such dangerous seas – That if we wrought out life ’twas ten to one’’

So, although odds in sports betting are not something new, the concept of odds evolved and developed gradually over the last few centuries. In the 16th century, Polymath Cardano first demonstrated the odds as the ratio of the beneficial and disadvantageous result. Gradually after this evolution, statistic odds were introduced as an expression of probabilities.

In the modern history of odds, very often the odds were placed over the phone, and money used to shift and change. The bookmarkers used to make the book by putting bets on every end-result that a bettor would wager on. In this way, the odds were balanced out.  Also, the bookies used to add the probability to all the outcomes to ensure profit.

In the 1940s, there were some betting companies, who were already using the betting compilers. They used to shift the price with just a single flick of duster on their board rubber.

Fast forward to the 21st century, betting is not limited to brick and mortar establishments only. Today, there are thousands of sports betting sites and you could probably find hundreds of sportsbooks in the UK alone! Then there are sports betting apps designed for mobile users. Sportsbooks are also available as per your betting preferences, such as social sports betting sites, fantasy sports betting sites, virtual sports betting sites, and more.

How Bookmakers Calculate Sports Odds in the UK Modern Era

In this modern era, fixing or calculating sports odds in the UK is not that hard as it used to be in the past. Now it is all about numeral crunching and the database of existing information. Traders nowadays focus on various types of sports events to properly evaluate the outcome. Moreover, vig is now applied to the price which ultimately makes it easier to set the bookmaker’s price.

By putting the previous sport’s score of a team in mathematical models, now odds can be quickly set by odds compilers in no time. With the help of this modern technique, now the in-play sports betting odds in the UK sportsbooks are more reliable, easier, and exciting as well. You can place the bet on a match, and after a big score, the odds will be fixed within the blink of an eye.

What Causes Sports Odds To Change Before Events?

In a sporting event, incidents like unexpected injuries, natural disasters, unusual player selection, etc. can bring a huge change in odds. Also, slights changes are constant in sports betting sites in the UK.  Odds keeps changing to mirror the weight of money shifting.

If an underdog seems to take over a huge amount, then the online betting site quickly decreases the odds in order to secure their margin. On the other hand, if a favourite keeps attracting a huge sum, then the odds will be in the favour of the underdog.

However, the pro punters have their ways too. They have the ability to quickly get some value even before the bookie gets a chance to decrease the odds. But mostly it happens during in-play betting where the sports odds change very fast.

What are Vig, Vigorish, Edge, Juice, and Overround?

If you are feeling intimidated by all the above-mentioned terms, don’t worry, all of these refer to the same thing. Vig, Vigorish, edge, juice, or overround is basically a fee that is charged by a bookie.

If a betting match is taking place then the bookie will give the odds, not an even ratio but an uneven odds in order to earn a profit out of the winning. For example, the odds will not be like 2:2 or 6:6. Instead, the odds will look like 1:2, 9:2, and so on.

Sports odds in the UK sometimes get adjust by the bookies to ensure the profit. The bookie will always try to give better odds to the winning team. So, the extra percentage slips into the bookie’s pocket. However, You will understand the role of bookies in the UK better in the next section.

Breaking Down How UK-Based Bookmakers Make Their Money

Understanding how bookmakers make money might take some time as there are a whole lot of complications involved in this matter. However, in the primary sense, bookmakers do not make money directly by placing bets or by setting the odds. They make money from the transaction fee that is also known as ‘the vig’. In fact, sometimes bookies tend to lend money to the bettors.

Even a few years ago, the name ‘bookie’ was involved with so many illegal actions, but due to the huge growth of the sports betting industry in the UK, the term bookie became a common and legitimate word.

Now whatever they do, they do it for making money—from setting the favourable odds to pricing up a match, all they do is to take the built-in advantage from the punters. Ultimately, all these activities bring the conclusion to ‘the vig’—a profit percentage of all bets.

Why Do Bookmakers Need Odds to Make Money

why do bookmakers needs oddsTo understand properly how bookmakers make their money in the UK sports betting industry, a real-life example can be given.

Suppose,  you are betting on a boxing match taking place between Canelo Álvarez and Callum Smith. There is no chance of a tie and both players have equal chances to win. So the outcome will be just like this:

  • Canelo wins: 50%
  • Callum wins: 50%

In a basic sense, if you bet on one of these results, you will get the easiest odds like 1:1. In other words, you may bet £100 on Canelo and then if he makes himself through winning, then you will get your money back with £100 winning.

So, you will get the total amount of £200. Here you might win half of the time and lose half of the time. As a result, the bookie gets no money. So, the bookie will let you bet against your friend. Now imagine Canelo as the winner then this will happen:

  • You and your friend individually put £100 into the pot before the match, the total amount was £200
  • Now you have won because you placed a bet on Canelo. In a fair world, now you will get the entire £200.
  • This scenario will be beneficial for you but not for the bookie as the bookie receives 0. In order to ensure the profit, the bookie will adjust the odds differently.

Instead of 1:1 odds, the bookie will offer 1:2 or 2:3 odds. If the odds are 1:2, then it means you will win £50 with the return money, and the total amount will be £150. Now if you win in this scenario then this would happen:

  • You and your betting opponent individual put £100 in the pot, the total amount is £200.
  • You have won the bet, your betting opponent gets 0 cash while you get £150.
  • Now the bookie will get that £50 as ‘the vig’.

This is just an example that how bookies make money. To ensure the earning, the bookie makes his own universe where a fighter might have 65% chances of winning and the other fighter might have 35% chances of winning as well. That extra 15% is charged as the ‘the vig’.

What’s the Catch for Bookies?

While the bookie is doing this, he is taking the risks too because in the middle of the match the bookie may find all the bettors are betting on Canelo. Here the bookie is definitely taking the risk of Canelo’s losing.

To reduce the risks, the bookie needs to find the people to bet on Callum as well. The best option to make this happen is to adjust the odds again and decrease the payouts a little to the bettors who bet on Canelo until some of the bettors get back on Callum. There you go – the secret of creating sports odds in the UK sportsbooks.

In a basic sense, this is how the bookies make money. If you understand the job of a market maker in a stock market, then you will understand the job of a bookie more precisely.

The Future Of Odds-Making in the UK

As we can understand how the process of odds-making has evolved around the year,s so in the foreseeable future we can say that the odds-making will be more advanced and easy to calculate. Now, in the UK online sports betting platforms, the odds are fixed by an algorithm, which provides the most accurate odds by analysing the statistics and existing information.

Dozens of new betting platforms are getting introduced with new interfaces and easier action taking options. Sports betting in the UK indeed has become a competitive marketplace. Everyday platforms are introducing new features to maximize your payouts.

So, In the future, the sports odds-making process in the UK will be more complex but will offer more money to make this betting industry larger than ever. Future bettors will also have the option to choose from multiple platforms to ensure the most beneficial ones.


What are the major responsibilities of a bookie in the UK?

A bookie has a lot of responsibilities. From the beginning of the event till the end, a bookie has to work hard to ensure its profit. A bookie does not only provide the odds at the beginning, rather it also adjusts them according to the sports event’s result.

Beside setting the odds, a bookie accepts stakes or bets, sets lines, and gives away the winnings. The successful bookies are those that can maintain all these tasks while providing the most accurate odds.

How do the bookmakers in the UK come up with the odds?

Bookies in the UK prepare themselves for the upcoming events. They study and do the calculation a day or a couple of hours before the event. Some of them even calculate the odds in the house to be accurate during an event. Some expert bookmakers can even perform without any prior study.

To come up with correct odds, the bookies actually focus on some common factors, such as, is there any injured player in the team, how strong is the team chemistry, where is a team’s position in the league rundown, how they have performed in the previous matches, their winning percentages and how they perform in-home and foreign countries.

What are a UK-based bookmaker's margin and payout rate?

First of all, the payout rate refers to the percentage of the total sum wagered on a betting event which the bookmaker pays out to the bettors.

As an example, if the payout rate is 96%, then the bookmarker will keep a 4% margin or vig for itself and pay out the rest of the percentage to the bettors.

In the £100 betting event, the bookmaker will take £4 and pay out £96. Here, 4% is the margin and 96% is the payout rate. Furthermore, sometimes this margin gets removed, so the bookmaker gets a margin-free environment in a betting match.

How can I find the best betting odds in the UK?

In order to find the best sports betting odds in the UK, you need to spend some time checking out different bookmakers. This also depends on the market you are wagering on as different markets offer different odds.

It is known that when there are lower options at hand for an outcome, then you will have more chances to get better odds. Rather than horse racing or cricket – sports like boxing, football, and baseball have lower options available for an outcome because here you are only taking one side to win the bet.

Do UK bookies have different odds online vs in shops? 

To be honest, odds are better online than in person because virtual bookmakers do not have the same amount of expenses compared with physical betting shops. A physical bookie has to pay for the staff, utilities, location, and a lot more.

Obviously, the methods, forms, and everything about odds is the same online and offline but offline shops may give you a bit difficult odds where the online sports odds in the UK are easier and bettor-favoured.

How to request odds from a bookie in the UK?

If you want to request odds in a physical shop, then you just need to go to the betting shop counter and ask the person to provide you the odds in your preferable market. But when it comes to UK online sports betting odds requests, things may seem a bit complicated for the new bettors.

Thanks to some of the bookies that provide bettors odds after requesting within a short while for their own created markets. You can avail of this procedure from various social media or via mail and sending texts.

Can a bookie change your odds after your bet is placed?

The answer would be no but there a bit of complication involved in the answer. When you bet, it gets locked but you may come across some bookies that will offer you something like this ‘accept movement in odds’.

Accepting it means that you are allowing your best odds to move or shift. You may sometimes approve it because it might work in odds to lengthen. Also, it may get shorten which may result in fewer payouts. But you may not need to worry about that because the good news is that the odds are only allowed to shift if it avails you in some way.

What is the best odds guarantee in the UK?

The best odds guarantee in the UK is offered by the bookmakers. They guarantee that you will be paid at the best odds if you can settle your bet early. Suppose, you have wagered £20 on a horse at 10 am with the odds 5/1. However, the race starts at 4 pm and by that time your odds have shifted to 9/2. Then, you will be paid by the new shifted odds 9/2 and vice versa.

Can I cancel a bet once placed?

In one word, the answer would be no. Once you have placed the bet, you cannot really cancel it. However, it also depends on your bookmaker. There are some bookmakers who might give you the chance to cash out your staked amount. In this process, you might have to lose a bit from your stake but your bet will be canceled.