The high street betting shop has been the backbone to betting throughout the UK for a number of years. It’s where it all started and without them the online world of betting may not be here. The shops weren’t just a place to bet for many, but more a way of life. They would be part of people’s daily routine and for a long time were the only outlay to placing bets on any kind of sports.
History of the High Street Betting Shop
The first high street betting shops were first introduced in 1961. This was after Harold Macmillan passed the law to legalise betting shops to try and counter the fact that there were so many illegal gambling hangouts in the country already.
The industry continued to grow and the high street market was booming in a very short period of time. At its peak over 15,000 high street betting shops could be found throughout the UK. The introduction of online betting has seen this number drop to almost half that and continues to decline.
Whilst high street bookmakers have continued to decline, it’s possibly not a fair reflection on the gambling industry as a whole. Since 2009 the UK economy has been in a recession with many high street stores facing closure and a lot of high streets in towns and even cities becoming ghost towns.
Whilst this has a certainly had a negative effect on the high street bookmaker, in a roundabout way it could actually become something of a loop hole for bookmakers to once again return to the high street. This is down to a recent U-turn by the government who, in an attempt to reinvigorate high streets and not let them turn into ghost towns, are allowing bookmakers to come into the derelict buildings and once again provide betting shops for up to two years without planning permission. Whilst a short term solution no doubt, it does hold the door a jar for the high bookmaker to once again return to the UK’s high streets.
High Street Bookmaker Distribution and Density
It’s probably no surprise to hear that the correlation bookmakers are in towns on the outskirts of cities that have low employment levels, high benefits levels and a low-level income base. It’s these areas that many bookmakers target as the places where they are going to attract the highest amount of people to their stores.
Places like city centres and areas of high affluence are ones in which bookmakers tend to be the least dense. In fact the whole of Tyneside has more bookmakers per hectare then the whole of London and a lot of its surrounding boroughs.
There’s little doubt that in these hard times bookmakers are targeting that of people who may be lured into earning a few pounds quickly. Whether this is morally or ethically right will be left for another day.
Do High Street Bookies Still Have A Place In Modern Day Betting?
Well the stats certainly suggest not. A decrease in high street bookmakers of almost half from their peak, in an economy which is showing few signs of a massive turnaround anytime soon certainly don’t help its cause. That coupled with the now massively popular online betting sites probably are another nail in the coffin.
But it’s not all doom and gloom for the punter. The accessibility of online betting sites is so easy these days that there’s no need to walk down to your local betting shop. You can place a wager from anywhere in the world at just the touch of a button. It also means that bookmakers reduce their outgoings trying to pay the up keep on many shops. This again will transpire down to their betting sites where they can afford to offer better odds and enhanced betting specials, again all benefitting their punters.
To conclude, it certainly doesn’t look good for high street bookmakers. It’s a trade – one of many – that’s certainly declining. But on the flip side betting is probably taking its biggest upturn since the introduction of betting shops and it’s the next step in the expansion of bookmaking as we know it.