What Is a Sportsbook?

A sportsbook is a specialized service that allows punters to wager on sporting events. It is at the core of many online betting brands, and it often comes paired with a racebook, casino, or live casino.

Licensed sportsbooks must abide by strict gambling regulations and are subject to federal and state taxes, licensing fees, and other regulatory charges. They must also implement responsible gambling tools, such as deposit and loss limits, warnings, time counters, and complete non-reversible self-exclusion. They also need to offer safe payment methods and support customer needs with a variety of customer service options.

In addition to standard bets, sportsbooks offer an array of props and specials. Some of these are based on player performance or specific occurrences in the game, while others are based on statistical benchmarks. Some are also based on futures, which are wagers on the outcome of a multi-stage event like a season or tournament.

While most sportsbooks offer the basics, such as moneylines and point spreads, there are some that specialize in niche markets and exotic bets. These are usually only available at a select few online sportsbooks.

The number of bettors at a sportsbook varies throughout the year, with peaks in activity occurring around major sporting events. This is because the sports being wagered on are in season, and there is greater interest amongst bettors. A sportsbook’s profitability depends on attracting a balanced amount of betting on both sides, and it makes money by charging a fee for losing bets, called the juice or vigorish.