Betting shops have been located on our nation’s High Streets for more than fifty years having been made legal in 1961.
In that time, betting shops have changed beyond recognition. Today, they are modern leisure retail businesses, offering customers state-of-the-art video and audio systems, comfortable furniture, alcohol-free refreshments and friendly staff.
What’s clear is that betting shops have an important role to play, alongside other national and smaller independent retailers, in revitalising high streets across the country.
Some would have you believe that in recent years the number of betting shops has increased. The reality however is that, over the past decade, shop numbers have remained stable at about 8,700 since the turn of the century. This is almost half what they were at the end of the 1960s when there were over 16,000.
Betting shops are an important part of the retail mix on high streets generating footfall, paying taxes and creating jobs. Betting shops generate more footfall than other similar sized outlets apart from post offices and pharmacies.
Betting shops account for less than 4% of the country’s 240,000 retail units. To put this into context, this representation is 22% less than bank branches, 25% less than charity shops and 60% less than fast food outlets.
Even in areas which are commonly cited as having the most betting shops, they make up less than 3% of retail units. For example, betting shops make up less 2.3% of retail units in Southwark, 2.7% in Lewisham, 2.7% in Hackney, 2.8% in Wood Green, 3.2% in Manchester, 3.3% in Birmingham and 3.5% in Leeds.
It is important to remember that betting shops are one of the most regulated retailers on the high street, and rightly so. Operators require two licenses: an operator’s licence from the Gambling Commission and a premises licence from a local licensing committee. A licence will not be granted if it can be proved that a betting shop would cause crime or have a negative impact on young and vulnerable people.