Every Bet You Make — Bookies Are Watching

Data affords those who possess it the ultimate advantage: knowing your next move. When they know your next move, they bait you to take it so they can win.


In early days, the street-corner bookie kept about 4.5% of the total money handled on a bet - $10 out of $220 wagered by two gamblers. The bookie’s profit was not dependent on the outcome of the contest. It was the same no matter which side of the bet won.

Today’s bookmarkers are using their advantage to devise new types of bets that they expect will attract more amateur bettors by offering high payouts with longer odds of winning. This did not happen suddenly.

Bookmakers have been developing these strategies for years in the overseas markets, and they’ve arrived in the U.S. Frequent, fast, in-game bets, and multi-part parlay bets are examples of new betting types.


In effect, bookmakers are gambling against their customers. They are no longer indifferent to the outcome of the event that is the subject of the bet.

The major source of information is the behavior of the amateur gambler. Bookmakers watch our betting patterns and adjust odds continuously to maintain their knowledge edge. They also learn from betting patterns and use that knowledge to design new types of bets.

Unusual patterns of betting have led to the discovery of cheating. Recent examples include the Toronto Raptors basketball player, caught faking injury that was tied to in-game bets. The bookmakers cite this as an example of their diligence in fraud and cheating prevention. But they do not discuss the fact that their observations about betting patterns allows them to stay ahead of the amateur gamblers.

It's important to understand the sportsbook advantage to protect yourself.

Bookmakers today have the advantage over amateur gamblers because they have all the data. Their goal is to design new betting options that will yield bigger margins of profit. They get their data from the gamblers themselves through their online accounts.

The sports betting industry, with all the available betting opportunities within each game, sets up how gambling problems develop. Faster, multiple bets make us lose track of time - and our money - until the game is over and reality sets in.

  • Sports bettors are more than twice as likely to develop a gambling problem than those participating in other forms of gambling.

  • Gambling problem growth among people in their teens and early 20s has reached record level.

  • A gambling problem is when one or more major elements in your life - work, financial, relationships - are negatively impacted by your gambling.

  • In Nebraska, sports betting is the third leading cause of gambling problems.


If you or someone you care about needs help with a sports betting problem, use our free, confidential helpline. You can call 1-833-BETOVER (238-6837) or text 402-806-7344. The Nebraska Problem Gamblers Assistance Program (NPGAP) provides support services to Nebraskans and their family members.



  • David Geier, Director, Nebraska Problem Gamblers Assistance Program

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