Betting shops: How have they survived the pandemic?

Why betting shops thrive on the high street

William Hill. Betfred. Ladbrokes. All brands we’re familiar with. All familiar fixtures on the high street. Each bring with them the controversial connotations of gambling.

It’s said that 47% of the UK population gamble over a four-week period (Lilly, 2020), so that makes it a pretty popular pastime. But why is it so controversial? Well, any other pastime that cost the UK government £1.2 billion due to addiction (Lilly, 2020) would probably raise a few eyebrows too.

47% of the population gamble in some form over a 4 week period

Gambling addiction is estimated to cost the UK up to £1.2 billion per year

Lilly, 2020

For the large proportion of gamblers that gamble responsibly, there’s little to be questioned when it comes to the controversy. It could be participating in the National Lottery for example.

However, 7% of gamblers do so ‘to get by’. They need to earn enough money to get through the day-to-day. And this is where the issue lies (Lilly, 2020).

It’s undeniable that, with the ever-growing online market for gamblers popping up all over the place, gambling has become even easier (Stewart& Zack, 2008).


With so many of these big names in the betting industry transitioning to an online platform, why do we still see so many gambling shops open on our British high streets? The answer: community.

“There is also the social aspect to betting, which online chat rooms on betting sites cannot replace. From the bookies to customers, the community feeling of the bookmakers creates an atmosphere that cannot be experienced through a mobile phone screen or at home.”

ImageHolders, 2021

Bookies are a place for people to go and engage with their bet. For some, it’s a place of shelter and protection from a night of sleeping rough. For others, it’s a chance to meet people that enjoy the same pastime as you – much like meeting a fellow football fan or brass band member. For your elderly neighbour that’s unsure about putting his bank details online, it’s a hobby they’ve spent years establishing.

It may be undeniable that there’s a few out there that roll the dice one too many times. For some, it’s a safe haven of social engagement. It can be much like your local pub; and we all enjoy a pint every now and then.

But whether you’re having a drink or placing a bet, it’s important to remember, ‘when the fun stops, stop!’ (BeGamble Aware, 2021).

References 2021. BeGambleAware®: GamblingHelp & Gambling Addiction |BeGambleAware.

imageHOLDERS. 2021 How Technology Has Changed theGambling & Casino Industry

Lilly, C., 2021. Gambling statistics 2020: Learn more about how Brits gamble | Finder

Stewart, S. and Zack, M., 2008. Development and psychometric evaluation of a three-dimensional Gambling Motives Questionnaire.Addiction, [online] 103(7), pp.1110-1117.3QiwAAAAA%3AxFTl_WORpV875S5Bnd_qjIepSR0lXSJTprKAdK4jQu14tiHFpG-x-xhEHifGLsHgeNxjjqk9CBI2eVb6> [Accessed 15 July 2021].