Whilst the number of betting shops in the UK has trended upwards from 2009 to 2014, and then slightly downwards from 2014 to today, it is undeniable that land-based betting is prosperous in the United Kingdom’s high-streets. For example, here in Paisley, there are approximately 20 betting shops according to Google Maps, for what can be considered a relatively small area.
Of course, online betting is a massive industry but similar to what we see with the cinematic experience, punters love in-person entertainment and experiences. Be it wagering at a horse racing event, or going to the betting shop down the road and stare at all these screens. It just “feels right”.
According to the Gambling Commission, the gambling industry in Great Britain has a gross yield of £14.2bn with 7,681 betting shops in March 2020, meaning a decline of 7.7% from March 2019. On the other hand, remote betting has been grossing £5.7bn in the Apr 2019 to Mar 2020 period, which represents an 8.1% increase from the previous period. High street brands like Ladbrokes, William Hill and Betfred, are all seemingly thriving thanks to both their presence online and on our streets, but how are high street betting shops still surviving when in most other industries, brick and mortar stores are plummeting?
Let’s dig into this.
Online Betting Is a Lonely Experience
The high-street betting shops are doing great because they make punters feel like they are not alone. It’s just not as fun to be alone at home, pulling out your phone, and placing a bet. The results and the odds are the same, but the feeling at the end of each course of actions is just totally different. It is a little like watching a game alone at home, or enjoying it at the stadium in person. It is just a day and night difference.
Now, there is an undeniable convenience with mobile betting apps: you can do it whenever, wherever. And this is a reason why all high-street betting shops are also providing their mobile apps and online platforms.
Additionally, for decades (if not longer), betting has been about betting slips and having to cross or write down your picks. It has its own charm just like paper books have theirs against their digital counterparts. And this is gone with e-betting platforms, it just doesn’t feel as real.
There’s Less “Analysis Paralysis” With Land-Based Betting
Betting shops generally offer a reduced selection of events and fewer types of wagers. You go inside the shop, look at what’s offered, and quickly make your decisions. On the other hand, online betting is full of complexity (variations, events, markets, offers, betting types, and more). Whilst professional bettors may enjoy having this many options, an average punter basically wants to bet for his or her own favorite team and that’s all. They are very much uninterested by over/under, handicapping, matched betting, multiple bets, full covers, and other systems.
Because online betting offers a massive range of events from around the world, it has become a little overwhelming to hobby punters – this is where the analysis paralysis arises. Therefore, walking to your local high street and placing a bet is just a time saving and money saving way of betting, too. You are just less likely to bet on things you don’t care about.
High-Street Betting Shops Have a Loyal Customer Base
Unlike mobile apps and websites, betting shops reap the benefits of being next door to your home or your workplace. Very few people will walk an extra mile or commute for twenty minutes to go to another betting store when they already have one right there, on their doorstep.
Obviously, it is the complete opposite for online and mobile betting sites. Punters often have several of these installed and bookmarked, and they bet on whichever is offering the best odds or the best bonuses and offers. It might benefit punters thanks to the massive competition for each outcome of every event, but it’s just harder for digital bookmakers to turn occasional customers into fiercely loyal punters.
The high street often sees the same people coming in and out every day, or every week. Gamblers have been forming stronger habits when it comes to betting in person. It’s almost like a rituel for some punters.
All of that said, the convenience of betting from home as well as the wide range of bets and offers available have put betting shops on a lifeline. They are doing great as of now, but they are on a slight decline. We are going to see less density on our high streets and betting shops will have to reinvent their marketing and their offering in order to keep up with their digital divisions.