In British and Australian sports betting slang, particularly when it comes to horse race betting, the term “punter” is simply a synonym of the word “bettor” or “gambler,” and is used to refer to a person who bets on the outcome of a sporting event.
“Andy has always been an avid punter, he even does his own handicapping research.”
The word “punter” came into the English language in the 18th century from the French “ponter,” which means “to play against the bank” and which is a derivative of “ponte” – to bet against the banker in card games. It goes back to the same source as “point,” as in “scoring points” and was adapted from the Spanish “punto,” a descendant of the Latin punctum, which is also the source of English “point.”
Nowadays the word doesn’t have to refer strictly to bettors and is in fact sometimes used to refer to customers in non-gambling businesses. Furthermore, there are some subtle differences between the British and Australian use of this term. For example, in both countries a “punt” can mean a bet, but in Australia “punting” is often used to refer to gambling, while in England punting usually means “boating in a punt.”