Local Bookies Near Me

Local Bookies Near Me

Gambling is a popular recreational pastime in the United Kingdom. 32.2 per cent of people gamble weekly, and the gross gambling yield is almost £6 billion. Additionally, almost every town and city in the United Kingdom has at least one betting shop. Popular betting shops include Ladbrokes, Coral, Betfred, William Hill, and Paddy Power. On the other hand, popular companies including SkyBet, National Lottery, Mecca Bingo, Betfair, Tombola, Bet365, Betway and 888 operate online.

The UK's most popular betting shops are William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral and Betfred. Out of these four companies, William Hill has the most betting shops. In March 2019, the company operated 2,264 shops across the UK. Of course, bookies aren't spread evenly across the country. However, some places have more betting shops than others. The major cities with the most betting shops are London with 813 shops, Manchester with 254 shops, and Glasgow with 240. However, several smaller towns and cities have a high concentration of bookies. For example, Newham high street in East London had 18 betting shops in 2013.

UK Bookies Locations

Bookies are typically situated in city and town centres to attract the most customers. Research conducted before the pandemic by the Betting and Gaming Council found that 82% of customers visit betting shops once a week. Research suggests that high street betting shops increase spending for other retail shops, as punters visit other stores after spending time in their local bookies.

In a blog post published in 2020, Brigid Simmonds, Chairman of the Betting and Gaming Council, explained the importance of the high street to the British economy. She wrote: "Whether it be a pub, betting shop, café or even a swim, that mix of retail and leisure is what makes our high streets work." She continued: "Research undertaken before Covid struck found that 82 per cent of betting shop customers visited one at least once a week and that 89 per cent of those customers went on to visit other shops on the high street." Simmonds' underlying argument is that betting shops are a key aspect of the high street and are essential components of the UK's retail sector.

The Growth of UK Bookies

As of March 2019, the United Kingdom has a total of 8,320 betting shops. Since the major betting companies were established, several have seen the number of betting shops they own increase significantly. For example, between 2009 and 2019, Betfred doubled the amount of betting shops they owned. By 2019, Betfred had 1,828 shops. In addition, William Hill saw the number of betting shops grow slightly over a decade. In March 2009, the company operated 2,238 shops. In 2019, William Hill operated 2,264. Other smaller, independent betting companies made up 1,079 of the remaining betting companies in the UK; this includes Ostlers Racing, Joe Jennings Bookmakers, Jennings Bet, Megabet, Corbett Sports and Scotbet.

On the other hand, other companies have seen the number of betting shops decrease. For example, in 2009, Ladbrokes had 2,080 betting shops. By 2019, this figure had decreased to 1,828. Similarly, in 2009, the Gala Coral Group had 1,630 shops. In 2019, the company had 1,529.

How Did The Pandemic Affect Bookies?

The pandemic has affected the financial performance of physical bookies. However, pre-pandemic, bookies' presence on UK high streets was already receding. For example, in 2019, William Hill announced it was closing 700 shops after new regulations reduced the maximum stake in fixed-odds betting terminals from £100 to £2.

In August 2020, William Hill announced the closure of 119 of its high street shops. The company explained that the shops would not reopen when coronavirus restrictions were lifted. The move affected 300 staff members, many of which were redeployed to other shops. Despite the uncertainty and financial strain caused by the pandemic, William Hill recovered well financially post-lockdown and consequently repaid furlough funds to the government. The company employs 12,000 people in 10 different countries. Seven thousand of the company's employees are located in the UK.

Key Events In The UK Gambling Space Betting and Gaming Act 1960

1960 was a pivotal moment for gambling in the United Kingdom. That year, the British government introduced the Betting and Gaming Act, allowing betting shops to legally operate from 1st May 1961 onwards. During this period, 100 betting shops opened each week. By December 1961, there were 10,000 legal betting shops in existence, showing that consumers in the UK had a big appetite for gambling.

Bookies had to be granted licenses by UK authorities, as the government at the time wanted to ensure that gambling was properly regulated. The government introduced the legislation hoping that it would reduce illegal gambling and stop betting shop runners from causing trouble. Legal betting shops allowed punters to place bets safely, without worrying about the criminal activities of sometimes violent runners.

Legalisation made betting shops safer. However, the government did not want to promote the use of bookies. As a result, betting ships had to be unappealing places. Shops had darkened windows, the front desks were protected by metal bars and the atmosphere was bleak. The response to betting shop legislation was surprisingly mixed. One punter reportedly said: "I think nothing of these betting shops, I'd sooner be on the street corner." However, others disagreed. Another man explained: "They're a great innovation. It brings the surreptitious and undercover off the streets and into a legal situation. When you have a place like this that's so nice and so well done out, it's a fine thing."

During this time, bookies such as William Hill and Ladbrokes rapidly grew in popularity. Their success led them to acquire smaller betting shop companies. These businesses appealed to the working classes who previously had less access to bookies than those in the upper class.

By the 1980s, betting shops were nicer places to spend time. Amendments to gamblings laws meant betting shops were allowed to change their interior. As a result, betting shops were updated to be more welcoming. They could provide chairs, food and drink to ensure punters were comfortable and stayed in the shops for longer.

Fixed-odds betting terminals

In 2001, fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) were introduced. The minimum bet was £1, and the machines were criticised for how quickly punters could place bets. In April 2019, regulations came into force which reduced the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals from £100 to £2. At the time, there were 33,360 FOBTs in Great Britain, and the gross gambling yield from them was £1.5 billion. Before the legislation was passed, critics had voiced concerns that individuals could lose large sums of money on FOTBs. Additionally, they were concerned that these machines are highly addictive and have a role in problem gambling.

In response, the gambling industry disputed the claim and said that the reduction from £100 to £2 would put betting shops at risk. Additionally, gamblers could also set money and time limits on the machines in an effort to reduce instances of problem gambling. The government briefing paper exploring the legislation noted that academic research suggests that the causes of problem gambling are not yet well-understood.

The rise of online gambling

In the new millennium, many bookies started to offer online gambling services. Online gambling became popular for several reasons. From the perspective of betting companies, online gambling cut costs associated with a brick and mortar shop. Additionally, online gambling saves both time and money travelling to brick and mortar betting shops for punters. Also, betting companies such as Ladbrokes and Betfred offer compelling promotions that punters might not have access to when making bets in shops. Online gambling provides consumers with a convenient way to place bets from the comfort of their own homes. Additionally, online gambling websites offer all games, including sports betting, casino, lotto, poker and much more, all in one place.

Online gambling behaviour

The Gambling Commission has studied data on consumer online gambling behaviour in depth. Their latest study into the practice, published in June 2021, shines a light on how gambling is changing in the United Kingdom. The results reveal that the most popular way for individuals to access online gambling is through their mobile phones. This is particularly the case for young people. The report also found that most gambling in the UK is done at home and that the average online gambler holds three gambling accounts. However, the report notes that many younger gamblers hold more than three.

The Gambling Commission's report into online gambling found that while most people gamble via their mobile phone, laptops, tablets, and PC usage stabilised in 2020 after several years of decline. Indeed, those aged 55 and over prefer to gamble using laptops, tablets, or PCs, and the closure of betting shops meant that these individuals had to turn to online gambling.

The Commission's report also found that more people are using smart TVs to access online gambling, calling it a 'niche' way to gamble. However, only 3 per cent of online gamblers access gambling in this way. Interestingly, the report found that smart TV usage has grown significantly among younger people, as usage doubled among those aged 18-24 between 2019 and 2020. In those aged 25-34, gambling using a smart TV increased from 4 to 8 per cent in the same period.

The growth of online gambling significantly accelerated in 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic started. Several periods of coronavirus restrictions meant that betting shops were closed for several months at a time. This undoubtedly contributed to the growth of online gambling via websites such as Ladbrokes, Coral and Betfred.

Gambling on credit cards is banned

On 14th April 2020, gambling on credit cards was banned in the United Kingdom. The ban follows the Gambling Commission's review into the practice and the UK Government's response to proposed changes to Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures. The studies found that governments and businesses should take several measures to reduce instances of problem gambling. One of these measures is prohibiting the use of credit cards in gambling. UK Finance estimated that around 800,000 people used credit cards to gamble. The ban applies to all offline and online gambling, excluding only non-remote lotteries, providing a layer of added protection for vulnerable people.

The Gambling Commission's chief executive, Neil McArthur, explained: "Credit card gambling can lead to significant financial harm. The ban that we have announced today should minimise the risks of harm to consumers from gambling with money they do not have. Research shows that 22% of online gamblers using credit cards are problem gamblers, with even more suffering some form of gambling harm. We also know that there are examples of consumers who have accumulated tens of thousands of pounds of debt through gambling because of credit card availability. There is also evidence that the fees charged by credit cards can exacerbate the situation because the consumer can try to chase losses to a greater extent." Mr McArthur also explained that he understood that some used credit cards because they were convenient but that the risk to the vulnerable was too high.

Review of the Gambling Act 2005

In December 2020, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport published its policy document about reviewing the Gambling Act, which was introduced in 2005. The government acknowledged that gambling had changed massively in fifteen years, and the legislation must reflect this. The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport at the time, Oliver Dowden, said: "Whilst millions gamble responsibly, the Gambling Act is an analogue law in a digital age. From an era of having a flutter in a high street bookmaker, casino, racecourse or seaside pier, the industry has evolved at breakneck speed. This comprehensive review will ensure we are tackling problem gambling in all its forms to protect children and vulnerable people. It will also help those who enjoy placing a bet to do so safely. This builds upon our clear track record of introducing tough measures to protect people from the risk of gambling harm - banning the use of credit cards, launching tighter age verification checks and cutting the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals."

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