Skip to content

Betting Shop Distribution

The main streets in the UK are declining in the UK. Retailers are moving into out of town shopping centres where parking is free and are easily accessible as a result. Many companies were forced to shut their doors and many of them have been able to move online in order to profit from the growing success of the market.

The gambling industry is one of the areas which have been stricken by the high street dying off. There was a time when high streets were buzzing with hive of activity, but in terms of the bookmaker they’ve been forced to move with the times and go online.

The numbers don’t make very enjoyable reading either. The numbers have been steadily decreasing since the 90s, and while bookmakers still manage to make a decent return within their stores, the popularity of them has definitely waned. A stigma associated with the industry and the rise in problematic gamblers (or at least the increase in their awareness) has certainly had an impact on how they are perceived.

There are a lot of betting Shops

At the height of its popularity in the UK was home to more than 16,000 betting stores across the country. They were located in nearly every town and city usually with several brands to pick from each. The sites that they obtained were of high profile and this meant that they were frequently within the center of the majority of street markets, rather than being hidden down side streets and generally off-limits.

In the year 2019 it was reported that the number was reduced to 8,423, almost half of the “glory” times. The problem that they have now is that these numbers are declining every year. From 2017 until 2018, the decline was around 1.5 percent in all, with over 100 stores closing. These numbers are pretty steady considering recent closures that this industry has witnessed.

But, the numbers are shockingly low now compared to what they were. There has been a bit of stabilisation over the past decade or so and it’s only been since 2018 that the numbers have been decreasing again. It’s interesting to note that there are more high street betting shops operating today than there were in 2009, with a peak occurring in 2012 and seeing that number increase to 9128 by 2012.

When searching for bookies opening times visit this website.

Online & Mobile Betting

Let’s discuss the first important change that took out nearly half of the betting industry. This was obviously due to the rise in betting on mobile and online. At first, people could place bets at the convenience of their home or even whilst in the field. There was no need to gamble in a betting shop and the betting could be carried out in a discreet and secure manner in the event that a gambler wanted.

Gambling online has transformed the industry completely and while the numbers have risen to a business today worth PS14.4bn every year in the UK only, the down side of this success was felt by the high street. Take a look at the amount of bookmakers who are located on track at racecourses. They’ve experienced the same trend of decline to the high street because of people not attending as many meetings and even then, betting with their mobiles while at the races.

To give you an understanding how successful the remote gaming industry, as of the year 2019 the news reported that they’d seen an upsurge in internet gambling of 2.9 percent for the year. The market for remote betting has reached 38.8 percent, a figure that has increased by 6 percent in only 3 years. These numbers are going to continue to increase as new generations that have been educated with technology will continue to use remote products over the high street.

The Rise & the Fall of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals

There have been instances of stabilisation for high street bookmakers, and this can be noticed as they have even increased the amount of betting shops they had in the years 2011 and 2012. The primary reason behind this was FOBT (Fixed Odds Betting Terminals).

They are basically mini casinos and include games like Roulette or Blackjack. They let punters bet huge sums of money quickly and in turn, lose large sums of money fast. They became huge Cash cows to betting stores and are among the primary motives why betting shops have remained open.

However the Gambling Commission ordered that the number of machines in each shop should be reduced to 4 machines to ensure that they do not become more of a gambling hall than a betting shop. The initial impact was on the bookmakers’ revenue, which was now only a fraction of what they had been earning.

The workaround came about through opening up more stores to have more FOBTs running. While bookmakers wouldn’t admit they are opening up new stores for these machines, those who were in the know were well aware that they were doing this. It was uncommon to see several bookmakers of the same manufacturer on the exact same street, in order to run more machines.

Like most things everything good must end at some point which is precisely the case with FOBTs. The Gambling Commission researched that these machines were one of the major causes of problematic gambling in the UK, an epidemic that continued to grow with the advent of video-based casino games.

To stop this, the betting limits for maximum bets of PS2 were added the machines to stop individuals from losing cash too fast. The first time this happened was in 2018 and it’s no coincidence that as the money the machines now can make has been limited and betting establishments has started to drop. Actually, the years 2018 and 2019 have witnessed the greatest decline in the number of betting shops in the past 10 years and it looks like this trend will continue but at a slower rate than many experts had predicted at the time that the new laws were implemented.

Brand Dominance

There are four large names that remain active in the market till date. These include William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral and Betfred. Please note the fact that Ladbrokes as well as Coral are part of the same company, however they continue to operate stores under their original brand names, so bear this in mind with any details pertaining to these two mentioned in this post.


The number of stores that are owned and operated by the same company has changed quite a bit over the last decade or so. It’s been fascinating to discover that not all are declining. Indeed, Betfred have more than double the high street betting establishments in 2018 than they had in 2009. The numbers have increased from 806 up to 1667 betting shops and they are expected to keep this increasing.

Ladbrokes Coral Group

They were able to strike an agreement with the Ladbrokes Coral Group in 2017 after they were required to sell a portion of their betting stores in the course of the merger in order to satisfy market competition within the UK. The deal added 322 betting shops to the total. It is apparent from an announcement made after the purchase they plan for this number to increase by a significant amount, and they have already done it.

This is very different from the situation of Coral along with Ladbrokes however, who are constantly destroying many of their stores, even after the merger and the sale of 322 stores to Betfred. Ladbrokes have closed a further 60 stores since the sale along with Coral closing almost 100. Whilst they still have the biggest combined betting shop portfolio, with more than 3,500 shops in the UK, it’s likely they move to lower this number as their selling continues.

William Hill

William Hill have remained very steady. They have the biggest number of independent betting shops , having 298 total shops in the year 2018. The number increased to as high as 2,345 by 2013 but has never been lower than 2,238 in 2009. The numbers appear to be really good in the case of William Hill and they are likely to remain steady moving forward, mainly because the size of the business means they are able to run some stores at break-even, and still be worth their while for branding purposes.

Other Notable Brands

Outside of these you have “other” bookmakers. These include Paddy Power, Totesport and Jennings Bet, along with many independent brands. These are the ones that have been hardest hit, and, after a peak of 1,607 locations in 2012, there are only 1079 stores, and their numbers are failing rapidly. It’s going to be hard for them to stay competitive especially since the smaller stores won’t operate online either.

Betting Shop Distribution

The north-south divide is a fact that is evident in the location of betting shops across the UK. There is a huge increase in the number of stores in northern towns and cities than there are in the southern towns.

In fact, only 1 town that is south of Leeds (Aylesbury) gets into a list of the top ten cities that have the highest percentage of population for each betting store. Top of the list is that of Grimsby with one betting shop per 6,721 inhabitants. They overtook the likes of Darlington, South Shields and Huddersfield in order to get the “crown”. The complete top 10 are as in the table below:
The Top 10 Towns in the United States with the Most Betting Shops Per Capita

South Shields

The towns with the lowest amount of betting establishments per head include Oxford (lowest having one shop per each 11,398 residents), Ilford, Hayes, Southend-On-Sea and Luton. It is notable that only Rochdale can be considered an northern town on the list, which accentuates the north-south divide even further.

Top 10 Towns with Fewest Betting Shops per Capita


The sad reality of the matter is that the betting establishments are targeting the lowest income areas , which are always performing better than the more affluent regions of the UK. Lower income people are more likely to place bets, regardless of having less disposable income than the majority of people.

Future of Betting Shops

The numbers don’t look good for the traditional high street. Betting is becoming more online-based and even though there’s a good range of betting establishments at present however, the future doesn’t look great. Many believe that the limits of FOBTs will lead to the industry beginning to collapse completely and that could be the case. But early signs from these machines being limited haven’t been as dire as first thought, which gives the betting shops chance of success.

Also, Boylesports announced in March 2019 that they were moving to the UK in the very first instance as a high-street bookmaker. They initially bought an indepedent bookmaker, Wilf Gilbert, and acquiring their 13 stores but state that this is only the beginning, with more than 100 locations expected to be start operating within the next 12 months.

The interesting thing about the Boylesports situation is that they have never operated FOBTs in any of their betting shops in Ireland since they are banned there. They also say they have no plans to include them in their UK stores, and also highlight the lucrativeness of the high street can still be.

We anticipate that more independent bookshops will slowly fall off, but. These numbers have experienced the most rapid growth in the past 10 years or so, and we expect this will continue. In terms of the most established brands they’ll probably consolidate what they’ve got right now , and will likely evaluate after the dust settles on the limitations to the FOBTs.