How technology has changed the humble bookmaker beyond recognition

Just a few short years ago, you might have said there were few things more traditional than the sports bookmaker. This was especially so in the sports betting heartlands of England, where placing a bet on the horses or the FA Cup Final meant entering an outwardly mysterious shop with obscured windows, filling out a paper slip with a stubby pencil and then standing in line to hand it over along with your money.

Those betting shops still exist, but they are rapidly dwindling in number, and it is all down to the arrival of online platforms. But the fact that you can now place a bet from your mobile phone without leaving your armchair has brought more than just convenience. It has profoundly changed the entire industry.

A wider demographic

Those bookie offices were not the most inviting places for the uninitiated, and were mostly used by a certain demographic of bettor. Nobody is nervous about installing an app, however, and today, even casual fans like to place a bet as a way to show support for their team and to be able to celebrate a win with a small financial reward. As a result, there are far more under-40s betting on sport today, and betting sites are also targeting female sports fans like never before.

New markets opening up

Of course, the biggest example here is the US, and it seems that barely a week goes by without another state launching its own sports betting framework. It’s hard to imagine that it would have gained this momentum without the boost provided by online betting platforms. But the US is not the only market that is opening up. For example, there are more Indian betting sites than ever, and they are appearing at such a rate that the regulators and lawmakers are struggling to keep up.

In-play betting

It’s a golden rule of the betting shop that they stop taking bets on a race or a game a set number of minutes before it starts. That has been turned on its head with the advent of live betting. Here, punters can keep placing bets, while the action unfolds before their eyes. It means the odds are constantly being adjusted with every point, goal or penalty, and it’s something that would have been completely unfeasible in a land-based bookmaker using pencil and paper.

Better payment options

Whether it’s a betting shop or a casino, gambling businesses have always had something of an obsession with cash. If you were lucky enough to scoop a big win, you’d probably feel some trepidation with all those eyes on you as you collect a big wad of banknotes and head for the door. Thank goodness technology has brought us easier and safer ways. The exact payment options vary from one provider to the next, but most accept all the usual digital wallets. Some have even started to accept crypto payments and others have agreements with the network providers so that your payments are simply added to your monthly bill.