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The art and science of bookmaking- which involves taking bets and assuming risk on some event whilst providing an outlet for gamblers to bet – is a very old profession. While some smaller traditional types of bookmakers, most commonly found plying his trade in person at racetracks around the Commonwealth countries such as England, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand, still exist, the vast majority of turnover takes place through large online conglomerates. Illegal bookmakers or “bookies” are also found basically anywhere else that gambling exists where it is legislated against – such as states of the USA (outside Nevada and Atlantic City), India, China and so on.
In those countries where bookmaking is legal and popular – such as England, Ireland and Australia, many notable bookmakers were able to create large profitable businesses online and offline over the years. Many of these businesses – despite being Goliath businesses that are now household names – still use the name of the original proprietor. Others do not. Let’s look into the background of some of the “bigger fish” in the bookmaking world.
Ladbrokes: The largest betting company in the UK, and another historic operation, Ladbrokes began its trading in 1886 under a different name as a commission agent, and changed its name to Ladbrokes in 1902. Presently, their online service features sports (including horse racing), an online casino, online poker, mobile betting, bingo and other alternative games. The prices offered at Ladbrokes for sports appear to take a decent margin and are even poorer than Australian Corporate bookmakers.
William Hill: A prominent online presence, a listing on the London Stock Exchange, and a long history of bookmaking. Has the interesting beginnings of starting 1934 by William Hill during a time when gambling was actually illegal in England. The company went through many owners over the years prior to it’s listing on the London Stock Exchange. The site offers sportsbook, online casino bingo and poker, and features an interesting informational type layout accompanying the betting markets. The prices on offer, whilst slightly better than Ladbrokes, are equivalent more or less to an Australian corporate bookmaker.
Paddy Power: Irish based bookmaker listed on the Irish and UK stock exchanges, offers online sportsbetting, poker, bingo, and financial betting. Paddy Power also runs betting shops and telephone betting. This agency is also renowned for its controversial bet offerings, such as extinction of the polar bear and the implied assassination of Barack Obama. Prices offered by Paddy Power are also more or less equivalent to an Australian corporate bookmaker.
Pinnacle Sports: An “offshore” book as the American’s call it, Pinnacle is located in Curacao along with many other bookmaking operations. This area of the world used to be renowned for its cowboy operations, but Pinnacle has been the best in the area for some time, with an excellent customer service operation and a wide range of sports on offer. Additionally, Pinnacle frequently has the best price outside of the betting exchanges that can bet you decent amounts.
Centrebet: Possibly the best known of the Australian online bookmakers, has a significant online presence and is also a listed company on the Australian Stock Exchange. Was the first bookmaker to go online in the southern hemisphere and has a huge variety of usual (horse racing, sports) and unusual (elections, financial betting) markets where they offer odds. The business was acquired