If you have concerns about gambling, please visit: BeGambleAware.org, Gamcare.org.uk or Gamstop.co.uk.

The History of UK Bookmakers

Sports Betting

Traditionally, bookmakers have been located at the racecourse, but improved TV coverage and laxer laws have allowed betting shops and online betting in most countries.

In the UK, trackside bookmakers still mark up the odds on boards beside the race course and use tic-tac or mobile phones to discuss odds between their staff and to other bookmakers. With the relaxation of bookmaking laws online gambling are at an all-time high.

Bookmakers Betting Shops

In 1961 the Government legalised betting shops and tough measures were enacted to ensure that bookmakers remained honest. A large and respectable industry has grown since.

At their peak there were over 15,000 betting shops operating in the UK. They have now been reduced to 8,500. Currently there are four major high street bookmakers currently operating in the UK: William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral and the previously state-owned Totesport.

Bookmaking Moves Online

With the arrival of the World Wide Web, most if not all notable bookmakers have an online presence, usually where punters can check betting odds and place bets in seconds.

The main websites only accept bets from countries where online gambling is not prohibited and from people over 18 years old. Often these websites are linked to online casinos.

According to the UK's help and advice organisations for addicts, Gamblers Anonymous, the explosion of online gambling is being linked to an increase in gambling addiction.

Bookmakers & Advertising

Most televised sport in the United Kingdom and Europe are now sponsored wholly or partly by online bookmakers or high street bookmakers, with logos displayed on players' shirts, advertising hoardings, stadium signs and competition event titles.

With the banning of tobacco sponsorship, and the significant commercial budgets available to the gaming and online bookmakers industry, sponsorship by car brands, alcoholic drinks, soft drinks/fast food is being rapidly replaced by sponsorship by gambling companies.