Running a sportsbook – all you need to know to become a Bookie

 min read
22 April 2022
Adam Gontarz
Adam Gontarz
CEO
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Contents

  • Intro

Are you looking to start your own sportsbook? If so, you’re in luck! In this blog post, we will give you tips on how to get started. It is important to remember that running a sportsbook is not easy; there are a lot of things you need to take into account. But with the right planning and execution, you can be successful in this business. So, let’s get started…

but first things first.

What is a sportsbook?

A sportsbook is a service where people can bet on the outcome of sporting events. Bettors can place wagers on the outcome of games, how many points will be scored in a game, who will win a particular matchup, and other propositions.

Generally speaking, the sportsbook makes its money by taking a commission on winning bets, but typically it also offers other multiply types of bets, like Point Spread, Money line, Under/Over, and others.

Now that we know what a sportsbook is, let’s take a look at whether you should start your own?

There are a few key reasons why it can be worth creating a sportsbook app, even if you’re not a die-hard sports fan. For one thing, sports betting is a major industry, and there’s obviously a lot of money to be made there. But beyond the financial potential, there are also some other good reasons to create a sportsbook app and problems you have to be aware of.

For one thing, many sports fans are extremely passionate about their teams and love nothing more than placing a bet on their team to win. Having a sportsbook app would give them the ability to do this quickly and easily, and this is great news for you as the bookie.

Another key reason to start a sportsbook is that it can be a great way to engage with your customers and get them to come back to your app again and again. If you offer good odds and spreads, people will keep returning to place bets. And if you add in some other features like statistics, leaderboards, and sports news, then you’ll have an even more engaging app that people will love. The key is to always think about customizations and make sure that your service makes a difference and can grab the attention of bettors.

It all sounds great, isn’t it? It’s a challenge, though, as sportsbook is a risky business with a lot of regulations. If you approach creating a sportsbook in the wrong way, you could end up losing a lot of money and developing a product that could be blocked by the government, or not competitive.

How to create your sportsbook, then?

We’ll emphasize it today quite a few times – if you think about building a sportsbook app, you should consider exclusively custom solutions. However, there are more methods of developing such a product and of course, we’ll bring them closer to you shortly. Please note that every of the mentioned solutions has its pros and cons that you need to weight-out before starting investing in a product. 

Why running your sportsbook as a white label is not the best solution?

There are a few reasons why running your sportsbook as a white label is not the best solution. 

White labeling can limit your ability to customize your sportsbook to fit your specific needs and preferences. You may not have control over the look and feel of the site, or over the features and functionality that are available. This can make it difficult to create an engaging user experience that will keep customers coming back. Typically Whitelabel sportsbook providers offer a wide variety of customization options but you have to be aware that they typically provide a set of ready-to-use templates and options to customize the CSS of the site. If you need to make a difference or need some level of flexibility, it might be a blocker for you.

Also, dealing with a third-party provider can be frustrating and time-consuming. There’s often a lot of back-and-forth communication necessary in order to get things done, and this can slow down the process considerably.

Finally, white labeling usually results in higher costs and lower profits margins. This is because the third-party provider takes a cut of the revenue in exchange for providing their services, plus they apply a fixed monthly operational fee. 

Why running your sportsbook as a turnkey is not the best solution?

First and foremost, it can be quite expensive. Secondly, you are essentially outsourcing your business to another company which can be risky. Finally, you may not have as much control over your business as you would if you were running it yourself.

Sports betting is a very competitive industry and margins are already razor-thin. So, any additional costs associated with running a sportsbook can eat into profits quite significantly. This is why many experienced operators choose to run their own bookmaking operations rather than go the turnkey route.

Technology is the backbone of any sportsbook operation, so you’ll want to make sure that you have full control over it. When you use a turnkey solution, you’re essentially renting someone else’s software and hardware, which means that they could make changes that could adversely affect your business. For example, they could raise prices or change the terms of service. This could leave you in a bind if you’re not able to find another provider quickly.

Please note that once you pick a white-label or turnkey solution it is hard to then decouple from the provider of choice. You’d be coupled with the provider for years, waiting for new features for months, or from time to time you’ll see a feature you were not expecting on your sportsbook! 

Develop your sportsbook with a custom solution

The most advantageous solution when it comes to developing your own sportsbook is to create the UI from scratch. Why is that so? Let us explain.

Advantages:

  • you’re in control of the product,
  • you can introduce any changes at any stage of the development process,
  • you’re not limited to the functionality of the product.

In other words, by choosing a custom solution, you can be absolutely sure that the final product fits your needs 100%. You won’t have to look for any workaround solutions just because something is missing or doesn’t work as it was supposed to.

Of course, building a sportsbook from scratch requires significant time and effort. 

As it is impossible to create every little part of the sportsbook in a timely manner because of the complexity, you have to be aware of a set of integrations to data providers, odds providers, payment gateways, KYC verification suppliers, risk management systems, etc. 

In this way, you receive a solution that provides you with services that you really need, on the basis of which you can build virtually any kind of bet type or feature you desire. 

You can replace a provider whose price is too high with another one quickly, or you can consider replacing the provider with a sub-product of your own. The most prominent advantage is the speed of change. 

You’d be able to build your product in an agile way, not waiting for your provider for months to develop an update for you, plus if your idea is unique and makes a difference on the market, you’d be sure that the provider won’t sell it to your competitors. The IP is yours.

However, if you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve and know exactly what features and functionality your sportsbook should have, it will pay off in the long run. We’re happy to help if you don’t yet have such a vision – we know the industry, we know technology, and we have built a couple of sportsbooks, which means the know-how is already in place.

Not enough? Let us list even more reasons.

For starters, custom sportsbook solutions can give you a lot of variety in terms of the types of bets you can make. If you’re looking to offer your users more interesting and engaging entertainment, completely different from the market standards, this is definitely the way to go. And if you want to be able to adapt to any market, custom sportsbook solutions are the way to go.

But that’s not all – user engagement is also key with this type of gambling solution. By running a sportsbook, you can offer your users a lot of value-added services that will keep them coming back for more. For example, you can provide them with tips and advice on how to make the most out of their bets. You can also give them access to exclusive promotions and giveaways. Typically, tips are delivered by the odds providers but please note that with white-label solutions you’d need to wait for the feature to be implemented by your provider. Depending on their queue on their side, it could take weeks or even months.

Last but not least, custom sportsbook solutions give you full control over your branding. You can make sure that your sportsbook looks and feels exactly the way you want it to. If you want to customize it for a particular market, you can also do it with a custom solution. And if you ever want to change even one small thing, all you have to do is reach out to your design & development team and they’ll take care of it for you.

How to run a sportsbook –  common mistakes

Now that we’ve talked about some of the advantages of running your own sportsbook, let’s take a look at some of the most common mistakes bookies make with their sports book products.

How to run a sportsbook - common mistakes infographic

#1 No customization included

The first mistake is not to include any customization in the product. This can be a big mistake, especially if you’re targeting a specific market. Remember – if you want to be able to adapt to any market, custom sportsbook solutions are the way to go.

Without or with very limited customization options, your sportsbook will potentially look and feel like any other gambling site out there – and it makes a big turn-off for potential customers looking for a more personal and unique experience, not only custom odds or markets.

Include customization in your product so that you can offer your users a gambling experience that is tailored to their needs and preferences.

#2 No filtering or favorites options

The second mistake is not including any filtering options in the product. If you’re running a sportsbook that covers multiple sports and events, you can’t expect everyone to be interested in everything. That’s why it’s important to give your users the ability to filter the content and only see what they’re interested in.

By including filtering options, you can make sure that your users always have a good experience with your product – and that they keep coming back for more.

Without filtering options, your users will have to scroll through a long list of events and bets to find what they’re looking for. This can be very time-consuming but also frustrating, and it will only make them less likely to use your product in the future.

#3 Limited offer

The third mistake is to offer a limited legal sports betting product with no integrations. If you’re running a sportsbook, you should make sure that it’s integrated with as many different providers as possible. This will give your users the ability to use your product in a variety of different ways – and it will also make it more valuable to them.

For example, if you are to advertise your app as an ultimate football betting app yet you only offer four or five leagues to bet on, your potential customers will be turned off by the lack of options.

On the other hand, if you’re running a sportsbook that is fully integrated with all the major providers, your users will be able to use it to bet on any sport or event they want. And that’s exactly what they’re looking for.

#4 Poor UX and design

The fourth mistake is to have a poor UX and design. Remember – your sportsbook is a product just like any other, and it needs to be designed with the user in mind. If your product is difficult to use or understand, your users will quickly get frustrated and they’ll look for something else.

Make sure that your sportsbook has a good UX and design so that your users can always find what they’re looking for. You want them to keep using your app, so make it as easy and enjoyable to use as possible.

Pay attention to elements such as:

  • the navigation
  • the layout
  • the betslip
  • the typography
  • the color scheme
  • the icons and illustrations

All of these elements play a role in the overall UX and design of your product. Make sure that they’re all up to par so that your users have a good experience with your sportsbook.

#5 No advanced rewards and bonuses system

The fifth mistake is not to include a reward system in your product. A reward system is a great way to motivate your users to keep using your product. It can also be used to encourage them to invite their friends and family to join in on the fun. Offering rewards can be one of the quickest ways to actually drive traffic and scale your sportsbook business – as nothing works better than word of mouth.

Including a reward system in your product will show your users that you’re invested in their experience – and that you want them to be your loyal users and spread the word about your product.

There are a few different types of rewards systems that you can use:

  • discounts (second bet 50% off, for example)
  • free bets (if a particular user tends to be a loyal one, you can send them some free bet opportunities from time to time)
  • VIP memberships (access to more detailed statistics, for example)
  • bet without a risk/cashback (offering bets with cashback in the case of a loss) 
  • start bonus (upon signing up, special offers or bets)
  • deposit bonus (a user deposits a certain amount and gets a bonus on top of that)
  • occasional bonus (e.g. if a particular user’s favorite team plays a match, the user can receive a special betting offer)

Choose the one that you think will work best for your product – and make sure to include it in your sportsbook. Try to come up with a system that works well for your product and your users, and that will give them an incentive to keep using your sportsbook.

#6 Poor performance

With running a sportsbook, there are going to be times when you will have to eat some losses. This is part of the business and you need to understand that before getting into it. However, if your bookie operation is consistently losing money, then something is wrong. You need to take a close look at what’s going on and see where you can make some changes.

It’s important to offer a product that is high quality and well-performing. If your sportsbook is constantly crashing or if the odds are always off, your users will quickly get frustrated and they’ll look for something else. Make sure that your sportsbook is running smoothly and without issues on most of the available devices so that your users can always count on it.

#7 Complicated registration and verification process of new users

The seventh mistake is to have a complicated registration and verification process for new users. If your potential customers have to go through a long and complicated process just to create an account, they’re going to get frustrated and they’ll look for something else. Make sure that your registration and verification process is quick and easy so that your users can start using your product as soon as possible.

The registration and verification process is one of the most important parts of your sportsbook. You want to ensure that it’s easy for your users to sign up and start using your product straight away. Sometimes it is a matter of one unnecessary field in your registration form that can make all the difference. So, keep it simple and easy for your users – and they’ll be sure to appreciate it.

Be aware that verification appears differently in this kind of app than in other apps or solutions. Users should be able to attach documents without hassle (many different documents may be required to complete the registration process), and these documents are stored with uttermost security. 

If even one step in your sportsbook does not meet that criteria, users may choose a solution offered by your competitors instead. Integration with a modern and trusted KYC provider should be high on your list of priorities when building a sportsbook app, then!  

#7 Laggy statistics

The eighth mistake is to offer outdated statistics and results on your sportsbook. Here we refer to a delay of a few seconds. If the delay is longer, the worse. If your users are constantly seeing old data, they will be sure to use other products that offer more up-to-date information. Make sure that your integration with stats and odds providers is always as performant as it’s only possible so that your users can always rely on your product.

This is especially important if you’re running a live betting sportsbook. You can potentially loose on a delay. Just imagine that you’d allow somebody to make a bed on something that has just happened. A typical platform provider would block such an attempt but you could never be sure and a multi-layer validation would have to be implemented to secure your business. On the other hand, If your sportsbook is constantly lagging behind, you keep refusing bets, your users will quickly get frustrated and they’ll look for something else.

#8 Lack of trackers in your sportsbook app

Trackers can make or break your sportsbook app. They give insights and important information needed for placing the right bet at the right time, so users appreciate both basic and advanced trackers in-app. 

The most popular trackers include:

  • changing odds
  • popular events
  • scores and courses of sports events (including injuries or substitutions)
  • rate lists
  • bonus lists
  • history of bets and scores

Not only do they make betting easier, but they also make it more effective. 

A lack of trackers on your online sports betting site can cost you, users, in long run. 

Players who have more information about the games become more analytical risk-takers, which is good for each bookmaker as they can generate more bets and spend more money in your app or on your betting site.

How to start a sportsbook

#1 Take your first steps

The first step to starting any business is always going to be researching the industry. This is no different when it comes to running a sportsbook. You need to understand the ins and outs of the business before you can even begin to think about starting your own bookie operation.

#2 Verify what your budget is

The second step is to verify what your budget is. This is an important step because it will determine how big or small you can make your sportsbook. If you have a limited budget, then you need to be realistic about what you can and can’t do. You can just do a few sports at the very beginning, do not offer live betting, etc. Please note that the cost of odds or data could be significant. 

#3 Define requirements

When you have a clear understanding of the industry and you know your budget, you can start to define the requirements for your sportsbook. This includes things like what software you need, what payment methods you want to offer, and what markets you want to cover.

And, it’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed at this stage. There are a lot of things to consider and it can be tough to know where to start. That’s why it is crucial to collaborate with experienced professionals like CrustLab who can help you set up your sportsbook and get it running smoothly.

How to start a sportsbook infographic

#4 Specify the development technology

The fourth step is to specify the development technology. This includes things like the programming language you want to use, the server environment, and the database.

You need to make sure that you choose a technology that is scalable so that your sportsbook can grow as your user base grows. It’s also important to choose a technology that is reliable and secure so that you can protect your users’ data.

Of course, no one expects you to be an expert in all of this. That’s why it’s so important to work with a development team who can help you choose the right technology for your sportsbook or help you with the verification of your potential solutions provider.

#5 Analyze your competitors

Let’s face it – there are a lot of sportsbooks out there. And, if you want to be successful, you need to know what your competitors are doing.

This doesn’t mean that you should copy them – but you should be aware of the features they offer and how they operate. This way, you can find ways to improve upon their offerings and give your users something that they can’t find anywhere else.

In this step, you should verify:

  • where your competitors are getting their odds from
  • what markets they’re covering
  • what features do they offer
  • how easy it is to use their sportsbook
  • which payment methods they accept
  • what bonuses do they offer
  • how they’re marketing their sportsbook

You can use this information to create a competitive advantage for your sportsbook.

#6 Define business logic and differentiates

After you’ve chosen your development technology, you need to start defining the business logic for your sportsbook.

You also need to start thinking about how you’re going to differentiate your sportsbook from the competition. What can you offer that they don’t have? How can you make your sportsbook stand out?

In this step, you should:

  • verify what kind of bets you want to offer, how odds are calculated, and how payouts are processed – this is the core business logic of your sportsbook
  • decide which markets you will cover and which ones you don’t – you may want to specialize in a particular sport or offer a wider range of markets
  • identify what features you want to offer and how they will benefit your users – this can help you attract more users and keep them coming back
  • make sure that your sportsbook is compliant with all relevant regulations – this is important to avoid any legal problems down the road
  • design a reward program – this can help you incentivize your users and keep them coming back

As you can see, there’s a lot to think about when you’re running a sportsbook. But, if you take the time to plan and prepare, you can be sure that your sportsbook will be successful. By now, you should have a good understanding of the steps involved in running a sportsbook.

#7 Verify law regulations

The final step is to verify the law regulations in your jurisdiction. This is important to make sure that your sportsbook is compliant with all relevant laws and regulations.

Building a sportsbook app without it is a slippery slope as it could lead to legal issues down the road.

There are many different regulations that you need to be aware of, including:

  • gambling laws – such as age restrictions and limits on how much can be bet
  • data protection laws – such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
  • tax laws – such as value-added tax (VAT)
  • anti-money laundering laws – such as the Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD)
  • responsible gaming – depending on the country, you’ll be forced to implement for example daily limits, self-exclusion, dedicated warnings, time counters, and other features that would prevent the bettors from being addicted to what you offer

It’s important to consult with a lawyer to make sure that your sportsbook is compliant with all relevant laws and regulations. Plus, of course, the license is the key.

They may also vary depending on the jurisdiction in which you’re operating. Let’s look at the US, for example. In the US, there are three main regulatory bodies that you need to be aware of:

  • the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
  • the Department of Justice (DOJ)
  • the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

Each of these regulatory bodies has different laws and regulations that you need to comply with. For example, the FTC regulates advertising and marketing, while the DOJ regulates gambling.

It’s important to consult with a lawyer to make sure that your sportsbook is compliant with all relevant laws and regulations. They can help you navigate the complex legal landscape and ensure that your sportsbook is compliant with all applicable laws.

There are various bodies that regulate gambling across the US, too. Each of these regulatory bodies has different laws and regulations that you need to comply with. For example, in some states, sports betting is only allowed through licensed casinos.

In other states, there are no specific laws that regulate sports betting. This means that you can operate your sportsbook without a license. However, you should check with a lawyer to make sure that this is the case in your state.

#8 Users first

No matter how good your sportsbook is, it won’t be successful if you don’t have any users. This is why it’s important to focus on acquiring and retaining users from the start – but also on providing them bespoke customer experience. You can do that in several ways:

  • by offering a wide range of markets and competitive odds
  • by providing a user-friendly platform that’s easy to navigate
  • by offering attractive bonuses and promotions
  • by delivering excellent customer service
  • by facilitating registration and log-in processes
  • by creating educational materials on how to make the most of your sportsbook app
  • by offering rewards for using your app

All of these factors will help you attract and retain users. And, when it comes to customer experience, you should always put your users first.

How to find a sportsbook app provider

Well, well, well. If you’ve made it this far, you’re obviously serious about starting an online sportsbook. The next step is to find a sportsbook app provider that can help you turn your dream into reality.

What do you need to know before you choose your sportsbook provider?

What features do you want the app to have?

Make a list of all the features you want your sportsbook app to have. This will help you narrow down your options and find a provider that can offer what you’re looking for.

Some of the most popular features include:

  • in-play betting
  • live streaming
  • cash out
  • statistics
  • virtual sports
  • e-sports
  • casino games

Make sure to check out our list of the top sportsbook app providers to find the right one for you.

How much do you want to spend on development costs?

The cost of developing a sportsbook app will vary depending on the features you want and the provider you choose. With that said, you should expect to spend between $50,000 and even $500,000 on development costs.

Running a sportsbook app will also incur running costs. These include things like hosting fees, data charges, customer support costs, and marketing expenses. You should expect to spend between $500 and $20000 per month on running costs. It strongly depends on the set of features you’d like to offer.

In order to make a profit, you need to generate more revenue than you spend on running costs. This is why it’s important to carefully consider all of your expenses before you launch your sportsbook app.

Also, make sure to get quotes from several providers before making your final decision. With a few offers on the table, you’ll have a better overview and compare what’s included in each offer.

Does the developer have experience in creating sportsbook apps specifically?

When you’re looking for a sportsbook app provider, it’s important to choose one that has experience in creating sportsbook apps. This might seem like an obvious point, but it’s one that’s often overlooked.

Creating a sportsbook app is a complex process, so involving someone with experience is crucial. They’ll know how to navigate the regulatory landscape, design an user-friendly interface, and integrate the necessary features.

All of this will make for a better end product – and a more successful sportsbook.

When it comes to choosing a sportsbook app provider, you need to do your homework and make sure you find the right one for you. There are a lot of factors to consider, but hopefully, this article has helped you narrow down your options.

Start your own sportsbook with CrustLab

If you’re serious about running a sportsbook, then you need to partner with CrustLab. We have years of experience in developing sportsbook apps and we can help you navigate the regulatory landscape.

In our case, numbers really do speak for themselves:

  • over 15 iGaming projects completed by our team,
  • more than 60 domain experts who are passionate about iGaming,
  • a solid understanding of the latest technologies, challenges, and risks, thanks to 5 years in the iGaming field

So, if we are to develop your sportsbook app, that won’t be our first rodeo.

Check some of our case studies:

  • BetMakers – next-generation online betting platform – Creation of a next-generation multi-tenant Horse Racing betting system hosted by one of the biggest players in the betting industry.  The number of weekly sessions per user increased by 241% since the system was first deployed.
  • Fixed pool betting system – Improvements and refreshments to a fixed-pool betting system. Fixed performance bottlenecks, implemented several new technical solutions and custom features, improved the user experience, and added more business conversion points to the web application.
  • DreamPicks – Online sports betting platform MVP design – Complete design project of the MVP version for an online sports betting platform intended for the US market. We created the complete design of the MVP version in less than three months.
  • Pick24 – social betting mobile apps development – Development of social betting iOS and Android mobile applications for simulated gambling. Integrated with the LSports API.

At Crustlab, we have over a decade of experience in the iGaming industry and we know what it takes to run a successful legal sportsbook. Our Sportsbook offering is constantly evolving to meet the needs of our partners and their customers, and the industry itself has no secrets for us. And, our team of experts is always on hand to help you get the most out of our product.

As our clients can confirm.

We have faced many challenges in iGaming work, but we have always come out on top. So, if you’re looking for a partner that can help you launch a successful sportsbook, then look no further than CrustLab.

We have the experience and expertise to help you every step of the way. Contact us today to find out more.

Are you ready to run a sportsbook with CrustLab?

Running an online sportsbook is a complex undertaking. There are various laws and regulations that you need to comply with, and you need to acquire and retain users. But, if you’re up for the challenge, it can be a very rewarding experience. Even more, if you pick the right provider for your sportsbook app.

If you’re interested in starting your own sportsbook, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We would be more than happy to discuss your requirements and answer any questions you may have.

Start your iGaming software development right away!

Let’s talk

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