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There has been a steady decline of brick and mortar betting shops on high streets in recent years. With the cost of private rent, business rates, and other taxes, having a betting shop on the high street proves to be an unnecessary expense for many betting companies who have decided to take the majority of their business online. According to Find Betting Sites, over eighty online bookmakers are licensed to operate in the UK, offering a staggering array of choices to punters looking for the best markets for their money.
The Daily Mirror reported that more than 460 high street betting shops closed in 2020, and this figure is likely to continue rising in 2021. Of course, the coronavirus pandemic has meant that 2020 has been an incredibly challenging year for all high street businesses. Still, the closing of betting shops is perhaps deeper rooted than just the pandemic that has caused many companies to shut down for prolonged periods of time.
In 2019, as reported in the Guardian, the UK government announced that they were planning to slash the maximum betting limit on fixed-odds betting terminals from £100 – £2, a dramatic decrease that would significantly impact the profits of betting shops across the country. While the move was praised by many people as a positive step towards more responsible gambling and protecting those at risk of addiction, it was seen as the final nail in the coffin by many high street betting shops that were struggling to survive.
Just to understand the significance of fixed-odds betting terminals to high street betting shops, in 2019, they accounted for approximately £1.7bn of high street bookmakers’ £3.2bn annual revenue. When you consider the size of the enforced reduction in betting limits, this is likely to cause irreparable damage to high street betting shops, and the early trends show that many are having to close their doors for good.
At present, punters can play fixed-odds games online with more than £2, but with a review of the Gambling Act expected in 2021, there is likely tighter regulation coming for online betting companies. But it’s not just restrictive betting limits that are driving people to gamble online. Bookmakers themselves are also encouraging people to gamble online, with the incredible user experiences available on their websites.
Only a couple of decades ago, people would walk up the high street to place a bet on their favourite horse and watch the race live from the betting shop. Nowadays, you can live stream not only horse racing but countless other sports from all around the world from the comfort of your own home. All you need is a little bit of money in your online betting account, and you can access a variety of sports that you can bet on.
What’s more, you have access to so many markets online, many of which are in-play. This is a significant development in the betting industry, as punters can now enjoy watching live sports while betting on so many different markets while the event is actually taking place. For many, this is unrivalled entertainment and is a fundamental reason why punters choose to gamble online instead of heading to betting shops.
You can also play so many varieties of slot machines, bingo, and casino games with online bookmakers. It’s difficult to see how brick and mortar betting shops will compete with the all-in-one offers of online betting companies, as they are super convenient, fun, and safe. If it hasn’t already, we’re likely to see online betting replace high street betting in the next couple of years unless some radical changes are implemented.