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Revamped Bookies Get The Bets of Both Worlds
NOT long ago, betting shops were dark, dingy
dens with a seedy aura. Typically windowless, smoky and cramped, they
were seen as hideaways for punters after a stealthy flutter.
But gambling has undergone a facelift and bookmakers are now more
likely to be fronted by gleaming glass facades, with trendy coffee
bars and air conditioning within. Instead of remaining exclusively
male bastions, women are increasingly being drawn by the more
And its all being reflected in the bank balances of the betting
companies. Stanley Leisure, for example, which owns 600 betting shops
and 41 casinos around the UK, has just reported its latest half-year
profits which saw sales rise by 73 per cent in its betting division –
from £382 million to £681m – a phenomenal increase. Meanwhile, online
betting is booming.
So what is fuelling this surge in the popularity of betting?
A spokeswoman for Stanley Leisure says it is partly due to the
introduction just over a year ago of fixed odds betting terminals.
"New machines called FOBTs have proved very popular and those are what
have been driving the growth recently," she says.
"They are terminals where people can play games like roulette and
virtual dog racing, penalty shoot-outs and number games. Theyre
proving very popular."
But there is more behind the growth of the industry than the
introduction of FOBTs. The Stanley spokeswoman says other factors
include more choice of betting products, a change in taxation and a
general shift in the industry, to make it more appealing to more
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