As I understand bookmaker in English is a person or company that takes bets on events. But I have two questions related to this word:

  1. Is there any special word for a person or company that takes bets on illegal events?
  2. What are companies that provide help and tell you what to bet on (like brokers) called?
  • People who tell you what to be on are touts: probably not what you're looking for, since they usually sell you tips. Aug 6, 2011 at 22:06

4 Answers 4


Is there any special word for a person or company that takes bets on illegal events?

There is no specific word, or at least generally accepted word, to differentiate between legal and illegal events. Both would typically be taken by a "bookie".

What are companies that provide help and tell you what to bet on (like brokers) called?

I don't know of a name for the companies themselves, but the individuals are often called "handicappers". Based on the names of websites dedicated to it, it seems to be in usage for describing the companies as well.

  • Yes, though "bookmaker" is used/correct, I'd say "bookie" along with most other American English speakers. Also agreed on the rest of Brett's information.
    – narx
    Aug 7, 2011 at 17:47

The definition for a bookmaker given by the FreeOnlineDictionary is:


(Group Games / Gambling, except Cards) a person who as an occupation accepts bets, esp on horseraces, and pays out to winning betters

For short, some people refer to a bookmaker as a bookie.

A bookmaker can be illegal or legal, depending on which country the practice takes place in. Wikipedia gives the following information about the legality of bookmakers:

Bookmaking may be legal or illegal, and may be regulated; in the United Kingdom it was at times both regulated and illegal, in that licences were required but no debts arising from gambling could be enforced through the courts. Now, since the inception of the National Lottery, it is not only legal but also a small contributor to the British economy, with a recent explosion of interest with regard to the international gaming sector industry. However, gambling debts were unenforceable under English law until the Gambling Act 2006. Trusted legal bookmakers are members of IBAS, an industry standard organisation to settle disputes.

Bookmaking is generally illegal in the United States, with Nevada being a notable exception.[citation needed] In 2009, one of the co-founders of BetOnline was arrested on bookmaking charges.[1]

In some countries, such as Singapore, Sweden, Canada, Hong Kong and Japan, the only legal bookmaker is owned and operated by the state. In Canada, this is part of the lottery program and is known as Sport Select.

So, when you asked whether there was a specific word for people who take bets on illegal events: No, but a bookmaker's job itself can be illegal. Bookies can help people place bets on any type of event, legal or illegal.

The equivalent of a "broker's firm" for betting would fall under the category of a gambling establishment. Bookies can operate on their own, out of a casino, or in shops. Since there is no one place where you can find them, the group of places you can find them are the gambling establishments.


Wikipedia says that bookmaking could be legal or illegal. OALD does not specify if the deal has to be legal. I've come across the word bookie far more often than across bookmaker.


As others have said, a bookmaker (or bookie for short) can be legal or illegal. To be specific, a bookmaker will lay a bet and a punter will back a bet. The bookmaker is betting that something will not happen (Blue Boots will not win the 4th at Randwick) and the punter is betting that it will happen.

A tipster provides betting advice to a punter (quite often a mug punter).

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