London bookmakers up against the odds as high street growth slows

This is why

Leading high street bookmakers have reported one of their slowest growth periods to date as increasing numbers of Londoners opt for alternative methods of sports betting.

This May, The Financial Times reported that revenues at William Hill had increased by just 1 per cent, half that of their growth during the same period the previous year.

Not that the Leeds-based enterprise were alone.

Just five days earlier, The Financial Times also reported that London company Ladbrokes Coral -which owns 17 high street shops in the area had announced a fall in over-the-counter revenues by as much as 2 per cent.

At time of writing, similar operations such as Dublin’s Paddy Power and Betfred, the operation based in Warrington, Cheshire, were also expected to announce similar results.

For the gambling industry as a whole however, this slow period of growth is unlikely to mean the kind of bad news that it has done for other high street industries.

Whilst football may be down at London’s betting shops, the sector as a whole is continuing to enjoy steady success thanks to the popularity of online betting sites which promote special sign up offers and loyalty programs, as well as the proliferation of mobile gambling apps which have hit the market in the last several years.

In the same Financial Times reports, William Hill were reported to have seen a 16 per cent growth of their online arm, whilst Ladbrokes Coral had seen an 18 per cent revenue increase from their online gambling platforms.

Such figures come on the back of a November 2016 report issued by the UK Gambling Commission which revealed that online gambling was the largest gambling sector in Great Britain, accounting for 33 per cent of all gambling in the country.

The Gambling Commission’s research revealed that online gambling generated £4.5bn between April 2015 and May 2016.

In comparison, the National Lottery generated £3.4bn, whilst just £1bn was raised by bricks-and-mortar casinos.

Tellingly, the report also revealed that the high street betting sector was worth around £3.3 billion at the time of the report, a figure which is likely to offer some relief to those worried about the future of London’s betting shops.

In spite of an increasing number of customers leaving said shops behind and opting instead for online betting, the sector continues to be a source of sizeable revenues for the brands that have long been a staple of London’s high streets.

This, too, is in the face of stricter government regulations and opposition from local councils to the popular fixed odds betting terminals (FOBT).

The machines, which were first introduced to London betting shops back in 2001, present customers with a number of games and simulated events which can be bet on using fixed odds.

Despite the relatively small payouts of such machines (no single payout is allowed to exceed £500), FOBTs have drawn fire from anti-gambling proponents who have been critical of high street stores using them as a means of attracting new customers and making up for the loss of revenues resulting from the growth in online betting.

In 2017, FOBTs remain an integral part of the typical betting shop’s USP, ensuring they are likely to keep on being a familiar sight on London’s high street in the face of increasing competition from online betting.

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