What is a bookies?

14 Jun

Ever heard the phrase, “popping to the bookies”? If so, you probably live in Ireland (just kidding). The ‘bookies’ (also known as a bookmakers, betting shop, sportsbook or turf accountant) has become a staple of Irish culture and a legitimate pastime for many, but do you have any idea what it is? Or, where it comes from? Let’s take a look at the very basics of what a bookies is.

The history of the bookies

The first ever bookies popped up in a rather appropriate place to say the least – Newmarket Racecourse in Suffolk, England. Named Ogden, it was opened in 1795 to give people somewhere to place their bets on the numerous horse racing events held at the racecourse. Although there had been ways and means for people to place bets on sporting events before this, Harry Ogden set up the first real ‘bookmakers.’ After the Gambling Act 1845, the only gambling activity allowed in the UK was at race tracks and this meant that Ogden and similar bookies were extremely popular. They had to employ bodyguards just to keep them and their large sums of cash safe. During the 18th Century, sports betting began to take off in Ireland too. With such a big focus on horse racing in the country, along with Irish sports (such as Gaelic football and hurling) it only made sense that the Irish would want to bet on these! The small bookies found at racecourses soon found their way onto the high street, opening up betting shops all around the country. Now, there are thousands of bookmakers to be found in Irish high streets, from big names such as Paddy Power and Ladbrokes, through to smaller names such as Celtic Bookmakers.

How a bookies works

If you’ve never stepped foot inside a bookies then it’s unlikely you’ll know how one works. While the first foray into a bookmakers may seem daunting, you’ll find that bookies (especially in Ireland) are a pretty relaxed place for the most part. The premise of placing a bet is really simple. You find the odds for the event you want to bet on, you make a decision as to what you think the outcome will be, and if you’re happy with the odds you then hand over the money to the cashier. They will give you a betting slip which notes down your bet (and the odds), which you have to hold onto. Once the event is finished you’ll know the outcome – and whether you have won or lost. If you have won, you can go to the cashier, hand in your betting slip, and claim your winnings. Most bookies will be filled with TV screens, showing the latest odds and live sporting events.

What is an online bookies

More recently, online bookmakers have become popular across Ireland and the rest of the world. In this digital age it is now even easier than ever to be able to place bets on numerous sporting events. An online bookies works in the same way as a betting shop on the street, except you don’t have to leave the comfort of your own home to place your bets. You can also compare odds easier online, meaning you can make the most out of your money. Online bookies will ask that you sign up for an account before you start placing bets, and many will offer generous welcome bonuses to reel you in. Once you have an account you can simply deposit money and start placing your bets on anything – from sporting events through to what the next Royal Baby is going to be called!

You’re now fully clued up when it comes to bookies! Although there are lots of intricacies as to how bookmakers actually work (including how they work out their odds), you’ve got the basics down. This will give you enough information to start placing bets, whether that be at a betting shop or online bookies.

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