How to Start an Online Sportsbook

Online sports betting is huge, as players find it easier and easier to jump onto the internet and place their bets from wherever they are. All they need is access to the internet, a smart device such as a phone or tablet and a method of payment. Oh, and a dose of sports betting savoir-faire, of course.

The players may have a straightforward time of it, but operators in the online sports betting industry face the much tougher task of first attracting them and retaining them. This is a highly competitive industry in which if an operator fails to serve the player adequately, they can lose them to another operator for the rest of their days. They only get one shot at it.

But if you think you can cut it in this industry, you might fancy starting up your own sportsbook. Below is a guide to how.

Work out how much money you need

You’re going to need at least enough money to cover all the bets, plus the license(s) you require where you’re operating. Note that you should have this capital from the start. A good sportsbook must be able to cover bets, no matter what the outcome. In the early days, however, you’re not likely to take many bets and will start to take more as the sportsbook grows.

Decide on your vig

Also known as a ‘cut’, you have to decide how much you’ll charge for accepting the bet. Whether you charge more or less will depend on the sport on which you’re taking the bet. Remember, though, that the higher the vig, the quicker you can make a profit. Charging a decent cut can also protect you against losses, to an extent.

Have a flexible, multifaceted software system

To run a good online sportsbook takes suitable software. There are lots of white label systems out there so you can personalize the branding when you come to it.

Ideally, you want something that can do lots of different things and allows you to operate as efficiently as possible. So invest in a fully functioning platform that enables you to accept a range of payment methods, offer promotions, and more. Check the user interface is friendly, too. If the player can’t do what they want to do easily, they won’t hesitate to click or tap away from your service and find an operator who makes life less complicated for them.

Offer competitive odds

The competition is high out there, so you should provide attractive odds that encourage players to bet on your sportsbook. Part of offering appealing odds entails hiring experts who are knowledgeable about a range of sports and understand how to create the odds for them, whether it’s the NFL, the NBA or college basketball.

Note that you should be offering your odds on a variety of sports or markets. Players like variety. Not only this, though, but by providing plenty of variety you create the chance to generate more income and pique players’ interest in sports they might not normally follow and bet on.

You might feel tempted to get the license yourself, but operating any type of betting service can require you to navigate lots of different laws. This makes it best to hire some lawyers who can guide you through the process so that you have all the right licenses and permissions to operate comfortably within the law. That might seem costly, but this cost could be insignificant in comparison to the punishment you could receive for not complying with the laws for betting service operators.

Set up a reliable merchant account

A merchant account is an account that a business uses to process payments from customers. As a business that banks consider something of a high-risk, you’ll have to create a high-risk merchant account. The fees may be higher and you’ll have less choice when it comes to choosing an account, but these accounts also help the business to mitigate risk, which makes them worth setting up.


Of course, as a business, you have to let the world know you’re out there. A lot of businesses conduct marketing on social media these days and if you don’t have the time to run your own social media marketing campaigns, you may wish to hire a specialist to do this for you.

You may also wish to have an online marketing specialist who can optimize your business website so that people can find you easier on the internet. This could save you time.

To start an online sportsbook is to operate in a fiercely competitive industry. Follow the advice above to get started and, as you settle more into operating the service(s), you can begin to take on more bets and grow your business.

Dragan Sutevski

Posted by Dragan Sutevski

Dragan Sutevski is a founder and CEO of Sutevski Consulting, creating business excellence through innovative thinking. Get more from Dragan on Twitter. Contact Dragan