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What is the history of betting shops in Britain?

In 1960, the landscape of betting in the UK changed completely with the British authorities introduced the Betting and Gaming Act that permitted betting shops to open up for business across the nation starting 1st May, 1961. There has been no ever since.

How It All Got Started

The first betting stores opened on that Friday of the 5th month 55 years ago. They continued to open up at 100 per week. After six months of new regulations coming into effect, there were 10,000 betting stores operating. The appearance of the gambling industry in the UK was changed in the span of a short period of time.

Bookmakers that received licenses to operate within the UK from the Racecourse Betting Control Board were allowed to accept bets on “tote odds” which was when the the bet was split up amongst the winning bets.

It was anticipated that the new laws could assist in getting illegal betting off the streets, and also stop the practice of bookmakers by sending runners in physical form to collect money owed to gamblers. This practice contributed to illegal acts and extortion that needed to be stamped out.

When the new law being passed and the only way that for punters to make a bet off the course was by proving that they had enough money in their account to open an account at bookmakers and then placing bets on the telephone.

The popularity of betting is growing.

Most likely, the biggest shift that occurred as a result of the law reforms was that betting went from being a seedy and taboo thing to a more socially accepted recreation. It moved from being an underground sport to mainstream.

Betting shops were a secure and controlled environment for punters to place their bets without being caught up within a criminal circle, which was a frequent occurrence when betting was not strictly controlled in the streets.

There was still a certain stigma attached to betting shops. The establishments had to lighten their windows, and they were not permitted to advertise or market themselves. However, they could be out in the open and betting activities were now controlled, making betting an increasingly popular pastime than before the 1960s.

Ladbrokes along with William Hill were two major names of the 1960s and their expansion during this period was groundbreaking. They managed to take on many small betting shop businesses such as Fred Parkinson, JJ Simonds, and Ken Munden. They appealed to the middle class and set the standard for the business that will remain in operation for the next five decades.

Stepping out of the Dark and Into the Light

Things were pretty much the same up to 1986. Changes to gambling legislation saw betting shops being granted permission to overhaul their design and interior. There is no reason for betting shops to be considered dark and dingy places. They now can serve hot and cold beverages or paint their walls have seating areas, and set up TVs.

This time of betting saw four brands take firm control over the market. William Hill and Ladbrokes continued to lead the way but they were joined by the huges that are Coral and Mecca in the new era of gambling swept across the UK.

These four brands who were the source of one of the most significant changes to the law on gambling that could affect gamblers directly. The bookies pressed the government to end a tax charged on individual bets. This was charged at an amount of 10% on all winnings. It took many years of lobbying by the bookies to get the government to end this tax . Then in 2002 all the hard work finally was paid off and the tax was abolished. This was a milestone moment in the world, with many other countries and regions still having similar taxes.

The Dawn of the Premier League

Another landmark moment for betting shops throughout the UK was the dawn of the Premier League in 1992. The new branding of the top flight of English football not only completely changed the nature of football through the use of television rights money, giving clubs the opportunity to purchase higher-end players and upgrade their facilities however, it also was an event-changing moment for betting across the country because more people than ever began to wager on football.

Only punters from their home country of the UK were initially permitted to bet on Premier League games and originally it was decided that players were required to make at least three bets. But the rules were changed after a brief period of time, and betting on just one games was given the green light.

It was the first step to expand betting shops into new areas. A growing interest in and love for the Premier League led to a demand for more betting markets. The advent of gambling online saw bookies satisfy demand from gamblers for betting on each and every detail of games such as corners, yellow cards, the minute of goals scored, including throw-ins. This filtered through to the betting shops which had to provide the same markets within their shops.

This phenomenon has gone on to spread all over the world to other markets . Not just in football, but in all sports. This has led to the concept of in-play betting and cash out. The introduction of these two options has not only become popular on the internet but also within the betting shops as bookmakers have tried their best to ensure that land-based punters don’t miss out on the benefits online customers enjoy.

The year 2001 saw some of the biggest debated innovations that hit betting shops. A range of electromechanical devices called fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) were put in place and the debate on how damaging they are to punters and the betting industry has continued to rage on since.

The minimum bets for these machines must be PS1 but the largest single payment cannot surpass the PS500 mark. The speed at which players can place bets has been the main focus of negativity surrounding the machines with some claiming that it creates gambling addiction. It can also destroy whole communities when it lures players into.

It was also alleged that these machines could be being used to carry out money-laundering. It was claimed that cash was deposited into machines with low-risk bets being placed. The winnings would then be taken out in the form an e-ticket that could be exchanged for cash at a betting shop counter.

It is referred to as”the “crack cocaine of gambling” bookmakers finally made the decision to act in 2014 and under the umbrella of the Association of British Bookmakers made the decision to let punters to establish time and money restrictions on FOBTs.

Going Offshore

At the turn to the turn of century bookmakers began to provide websites that allowed players to bet on the internet without having to leave the security of their home. The result was a change in the management of business by a number of the big-name betting shops with branded names.

One one of the pioneers in this is Victor Chandler. The self-styled bookmaker made the decision to relocate his entire business offshore to Gibraltar. It was a result of their players gamble offshore, which makes them tax-free and that was a major factor in that British Government changing their stance regarding gambling tax. On the 1st December 2014 the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill resulted in the taxation of online gambling was now altered from a “place where supply occurs’ to a ‘point of consumption. This meant that offshore bookies would no longer immune from the reach of UK tax law.

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The law is continuing to have an impact on betting shops of today. Some of the largest branded bookmakers have been forced to join with Betfair along with Paddy Power leading the huge mergers. Ladbrokes along with Coral are two more bookmakers that are at the in the middle of a merger plan however they’ve been informed that they have to sell betting outlets if the merger is to be finalized. It’s a pattern that will certainly get more common in the near future, as book publishers struggle to cope financially with the new tax regulations imposed by the British government.

Recent figures also suggested an increase in the worth of gambling shops, which is declining. The value of betting shops was believed to hit a high in 2005 when William Hill bought out Stanley’s betting shops for a cost of around PS807,000 per shop. There was speculation recently that Boylesports planned to acquire 360 betting stores from Ladbrokes and Coral at a cost of just PS277,000 each. The value of the betting shops is clearly at a significant decline if those numbers are accurate.

The Future In Their Hands

Gambling online has had a huge effect on bookmakers. Recent changes to the law has added even greater pressure to bookmakers to adapt to the changing environment. It could be merging with a competitor or providing a more sophisticated location to keep their land-based enterprise modernized.

The betting shops may take the example of casinos that have seen their land-based premises get hit by the rise of gambling on casinos online. The customer experience within betting shops will now become the top priority for bookmakers as they try to stop the possibility of betting shops closing down as online sports betting continues rise.

This is a problem that has no sign of getting resolved until mobile gambling becomes being the next step. If bookmakers are able to develop more inventive and innovative ways to lure gamblers, then the future of betting shops will remain exactly the same as they have but these are troubling times for the betting shops. The number of betting stores within the UK so they remain commonplace However, this could be changing quickly, with figures showing the percentage of betting establishments in the UK has declined by 43% since 1970. They might not be extinct but they are certainly in danger of becoming an endangered species.