Illegal sports betting at the University of Florida
Part 1: How it Works

By Alexis Ashby Jan. 24, 2023

When it comes to legal online books, placing bets and receiving payouts is done on the same platform. There are no middlemen. No risk of not being paid.

“They look nearly identical,” Jeff Derevensky, a psychiatry and psychology professor at McGill University in Montreal, said when comparing legal and illegal sports betting websites.

However, the mechanics behind both are very different.

Illegal bettors receive a line of credit, typically $500, for the week. They place their bets through agents, commonly referred to as bookies, throughout the week. At the end of the week, when it’s time to pay out, if they have lost more than they won, they pay the bookie. If they won more than they lost for the week, the bookie pays them with money from a backer’s pocket.

Illegal books are tiered businesses. Most of the bets and payments are exchanged on platforms like Venmo or Cash App. Although bookies are likely local and may know most of the people on his or her book, their backers are not. Indeed, the backers may even be from outside of the state. Bookies and backers split the betting proceeds, with the backers earning the highest percentage.