Betting shops are features of almost every neighborhood in the UK. It’s a place where a bettor can place a legal wager with a licensed bookmaker. Some of the best known betting shops include Ladbrokes, Coral and William Hill. The bookmaker sets the odds and lets the bettors know if there’s going to be a casino bonus. Then the fun starts.
Bettors can place wagers on a wide range of events at the betting shop. These include wagers on sporting events, on predictions of historical occurrences, on the doings of the royal family, on news reports and other present and future events. All of these wagers can be made at the corner bookie.
If until now you’ve stuck with online casino fun, like that which can be found at the Online Casino, here are some points you’ll be interested in to help your move over to betting at the neighborhood bookie shop.
Betting, other than at recognized casino venues, at race courses and by post or telephone, was illegal until 1960 when the Betting and Gaming Act was passed. Bookmakers opened their shops to the public to allow individuals to place bets easily and collect wins right near their home and local bank.
Betting shops generally display racing forms for the day’s horse races and TV screens where the bettors can watch sporting events including live races and other sports events. Betting shops can also be found near football fields so that fans can place their bets using pre-printed betting slips. The shops are strictly regulated and any slot machines that are placed in the shops are controlled regarding the number of machines they can have and the maximum payouts given.
The government has also committed to give local authorities more power to limit the form and the number of betting shops in their jurisdictions.
There are close to 9000 betting shops in the UK today as compared to 16,000 in 1980. The vast majority of these shops are located in commercial centers and on High Streets and they account for the employment of approximately 40,000 people. The shops estimate that about 3% of British citizens, or 8 million people, participate in betting activities at the shops.
Betting Shops in the 21st Century
There have been some significant changes in the world of UK corner bookies. One major change is that a new bookmaker can now open next to an older, existing bookie shop which it could not do before 2008. Also, in order to open a new shop, the new owner had to be able to “prove unmet demand” but the government removed these rules in order to create a more competitive environment.
It is still the practice among many betting shops to darken the windows so that people standing outside can’t see what’s taking place inside. This is a carry over from previous rules that demanded that betting shops – like sex shops – keep what’s happening in the shop secret from people walking down the high street. Those rules have also relaxed but the practice continues.
Machines are a big change for the bookie shops. Today’s betting shops are deriving a significant percent of their profits from fixed odds betting terminals. In fact, in many shops, the betting machines have overtaken the fixed-odds racing games and other events on which gamblers bet. The machines can average profits of around £200,000 a year in a medium-sized betting shop and already by 2011 their revenue was surpassing traditional over-the-counter betting.
Some of these games are fantasy games – Star Wars, Dragon’s Flame, A New Hope, etc. Video roulette, blackjack and poker are also popular machines. There are no sounds that signal jackpots, no rush of falling coins or neon bulbs as in a slots game.
Once the gamer feeds the banknotes into the machine everything takes place on the screen and winners can collect their payouts by printing paper slips which are traded with the shop manager or attendant.
Town Councils are battling the trend which is, they believe, highly addictive and dangerous. But the legal battles seem to favor the shops and the machines. In Newham, the council recently lost a legal battle to prevent a new bet shop from opening which featured gaming machines on the premises.
There’s a limit of four fixed-odds machines per shop but some bookmakers avoid the restrictions by opening more branches which create High Street clusters. With machines bringing in on average £900 a week in profits it’s a good bet that the trend will continue.
According to the UK Gambling Commission, betting on dog and horse races are the most popular form of gambling but online gaming is rising in popularity. Online casino gaming is the second most popular form of gambling entertainment in the UK with 35 percent of the gambling in the UK being done online. That doesn’t mean that online players don’t visit bookie shops – it just means that they supplement their bookmaker betting with online gaming at home or on their mobile device.
Virtual gaming machines in a bookmakers shop are the third most popular form of gambling with a third of the gamers going to play on the machines more than twice a week.
The Gambling Commission also looks at the population to try to get an idea of who is gambling in the UK. Their research shows that gambling may be declining a but for people in the youngest age group, aged 18 – 24, the trend is upward – people in that age group are more likely to wager on games than they were a year ago.