A bookie is someone who takes bets and will pay out if they win or keep the stake if they lose. It comes from the word bookmaker.
(source: Iceberg Slim-Pimp, the story of my life)
Section of the novel that contains the expression:
”Miss Peaches had died of old age. His eyes were sad when he told me about it. Glass Top was still out West in Seattle. Patch Eye did a little bookie business for him. Sweet had lost his glory. He looked a hundred years old. His backbone was the old white broad who owned the building.”
Slim meets his old friend, Sweet Jones after they have not seen each other for a long time. Sweet tells him what happened meanwhile with their common friends. Sweet’s cat (Miss Peaches) died, Top Glass (a pimp pal of them) moved to Seattle, he was down and Patch Eye (an old hustler) involved him to some ’bookie business’... (this is out of question some shady deal)
But what kind of business this exactly refers to?
And to start accepting bets on something is known as 'opening a book' (and then 'running/keeping a book'). In Br English, a bookie usually deals in bets on sport, or events like General Elections - and on various seasonal things such as 'a white Christmas'; this bookie may be taking bets on something else.
I spent my university holidays working for a bookmaker- we'd take bets on anything.
It sounds like Glass Top was the actual bookmaker, and Patch Eye was his agent or employee.
It is worth noting that while bookmaking is quite legal in the UK, it is illegal in most of America, and was probably illegal everywhere in America at the time Slim was writing, except perhaps in Nevada. Being a bookie, like being a pimp, was a crime.
Last edited by probus; 02-Feb-2013 at 05:50. Reason: fix typo