What Does a Sportsbook Do?

A sportsbook accepts wagers on various sporting events and is usually licensed to operate in a jurisdiction where gambling is legal. A license typically requires the implementation of controls like age verification and self-exclusion programs. It also necessitates regular auditing and reporting. Licensing is a significant investment, but it ensures that your business meets the legal and ethical standards expected of a legitimate gambling establishment.

The most basic function of a sportsbook is to take losing wagers and use them to pay out winning ones. This is called the hold percentage, and it offers the bookmaker a margin that allows them to make money over the long term. It doesn’t mean that customers will win money at the rate set by the hold, but it does allow them to lose less than they would if they were betting on random events with no skill.

In addition to this margin, a sportsbook will also try to mitigate the risk of losing a large volume of bets by taking other bets that offset those it has on its books. This is called market making, and it offers a number of benefits to sportsbooks. First, it allows them to offer high limits and cultivate a loyal customer base. It also gives them the ability to quickly identify and act on integrity issues, as they know exactly how many people are betting against them. However, this type of information leaks and can be acted upon by serious bettors who know how to play the game.