With the possible exception of the adult entertainment industry, it’s fair to argue to that no other British business sector has adapted to the digital revolution quite as successfully as the gambling industry.
From to traditional print media advertisements and television commercials, the industry as a whole has never exactly been shy when it comes to following their audiences and advertising to them via the latest, most post popular media.
Yet even with a proven track record of adapting to new media, few could have quite so accurately predicted just how effortlessly -and successfully- major bookmakers have taken to the web, and just how much mainstream appeal the industry has attracted as a result of taking their business online.
A quick glance at any online betting sites list reveals scores of companies which just a few years ago were mostly unheard of, but which today are practically household names.
Even those lists only offer a small introduction to the vast landscape of the UK’s online gambling sector, a sector which the UK Gambling Commission says accounts for 33% of all betting in Britain.
Making Gambling Acceptable and Accessible
On the face of it, the rise in popularity -not to mention the widespread mainstream appeal- of online betting, should not come as much of a surprise to even the most casual of observers.
By taking their business online, bookmakers, casinos and new gambling startups alike removed not only the stigma surrounding gambling, but also the pressures and uncertainties facing first-time punters on their inaugural visit to their local high street bookmakers.
In other words, the move to the web made gambling both socially acceptable and widely acceptable, the industry profiting immensely as a result.
Yet the unprecedented growth in online betting was not without its victims, victims from the very same industry no less.
Experts Predict The Demise of High Street Bookmakers
As early as 2011, the media were reporting that traditional bookmakers could be the next high street staple to fall by the wayside in the face of increasing competition from the online market.
Even back then, the trend seemed both simple and wholly inevitable:
Punters would move away from their local bookies and do most of their gambling online instead.
The result was equally as inevitable:
Faced with heavily diminished footfall numbers, the bricks-and-mortar bookies would be forced to close.
In the six years that followed, predictions that the industry would soon suffer from a lack of high street presence started to come true.
Reports of bookmakers going into administration and betting shops closing in their hundreds were not uncommon in the news media,
Yet whilst this all seems that the industry is facing its demise, the truth is actually much different.
The High Street Fights Back
In May 2017, The Guardian reported that William Hill had actually seen an increase in over-the-counter take. Whilst the increase itself may have only been 2%, that is not an insignificant number when you consider that most experts have been writing off high street bookmakers for most of this decade.
Indeed, though the presence of major bookmakers in UK towns today may not be as strong as it once was, it is still there, continuing to exist alongside its online counterpart and proving the exception to the rule the web based businesses typically put an end to those on the high street.
Whilst it may be too early to tell whether traditional betting shops will once again flourish as they once did, William Hill’s recent growth means there’s one thing you can definitely bet on: That the high street bookmakers isn’t going down without a fight.