Bookmakers today are vastly different from what they used to be nearly 20 years before, despite the fact that betting was still very popular among gamblers even two decades ago. While the essence and the functions of bookmakers have remained intact, many of their operations and the broad framework, within which they operate and offer their services, have changed. Going to Allbets tv and reviewing all bookmakers can certainly give you a more accurate picture of how they are today and how they function and thus gain a more rounded perspective on how much they have changed.
There are four key changes that have taken place in the bookmakers’ business, each of these shaping the world of betting and contributing to the development of a new operational framework.
1. From brick-and-mortar betting shops to online sportsbooks
One of the most profound structural changes in the bookmakers’ industry is the shift from physical transactions to virtual transactions with punters. Traditional bookmakers would maintain physical stores, where customers would go to place bets on their favorite teams and athletes. This has all changed, all so transformatively as the internet has provided new avenues of communication, distribution and service delivery. In the beginning of the new millennium, bookmakers were making rather hesitant steps towards embracing and going along with the potentials of the web, but today it is quite unthinkable for a bookmaker to ignore the internet. In fact, moving online was an imperative strategy for existing bookmaker brands (maintaining brick-and-mortar shops) but it is the only choice for new bookies.
Most of the action now takes place online. Online betting is driving the growth in the entire industry, with online bookmakers gaining continuously bigger and bigger shares of the pie and gradually pushing out of the market bookies that do not fully align to the trends of online gambling. Industry statistics and market forecasts suggest that online betting is going to eventually extinguish betting on physical, brick-and-mortar stores in the not so distant future, while also that the online betting market is going to experience double-digit compound annual growth rate of almost 12% by 2028.
Fuelled by the development of sophisticated software systems, the internet usage growth around the world -and especially on the Asia Pacific, which is an anticipated exploding market with unique opportunities for the near future- and the advancement of ICTs, online bookmakers are expected to thrive in the following years, showing a very different and distant ‘being’ and ‘structure’ from what they were nearly two decades ago.
2.The Gambling Act 2005 and the Gambling Commission
Bookmakers and casinos had not always been fully operational within the framework of legislation and law. While the Betting and Gaming Act 1968 was in place to make sure that gambling is permitted but it is not encouraged, it was the Gambling Act 2005 that transformed the industry and brought about significant changes evidenced in the last twenty years.
The Gambling Act 2005 -which became effective in 2007- made a more liberalized legislative and regulatory approach to betting and gambling, promoting a new perspective and a fresh treatment of gambling as being more of a leisure activity and less of simply a government-permitted and socially-tolerated activity.
In the meantime it also provided sufficient protection for the vulnerable and for all gamblers against fraud, deception or exploitation and in this way, it laid the regulatory framework for bookmakers’ operations, especially in the online world. Before the Gambling Act 2005, a bookmaker could start business on the internet without any restrictions and as such bettors were at risk of being deceived or even having their money being stolen or lost. But the Gambling Act 2005 developed a rather strict regulatory and legislative framework for doing business online and emphasized the protection of bookmakers’ customers. And to further tighten the situation, the Act established the Gaming Commission, the regulatory body responsible for overseeing and providing licenses to bookmakers.
Another critical change brought by the Gambling Act 2005 was that bookmakers were now allowed to advertise across media. Before that, UK sportsbooks and online bookies could not place advertisements and therefore they were gradually becoming dwarfed, at least marketing-wise, by international competitors. From that point on, advertising was liberalized, allowing bookmakers to reach more target audiences, strengthen their brands and increase awareness, brand preference and therefore sales. Bookmakers started to reach the masses and betting grew exponentially.
3. Mobile Technology and Mobile Applications
Talking about the main changes in the bookmakers industry and the gambling market would be incomplete without acknowledging the role of mobile technologies and the growth of mobile betting. The internet was the first revolutionary development, but equally revolutionary were the mobile functions of bookmakers. Today, punters are placing their bets in the easiest way possible, through one-off taps on their mobile devices. Bookmakers are spending a lot of money on developing mobile applications that are user-friendly, but sophisticated and high-tech embedding systems that can function properly yet innovatively and can totally transform the users’ experience when betting.
4. Esports betting growing parallel to traditional sports betting
The fourth critical area of change in the bookmakers’ industry and the betting market is the rise of esports betting. Bookmakers have surely expanded their list of sports and events, but they have also moved to esports and competitive video gaming competitions. Esports are now very popular among fans and gamblers alike and they generate a lot of interest, growing rates of viewership and growing volumes of bets. Bookmakers could not but embrace esports, include them in their main bet offerings and markets and develop entire special sections, services and products in their websites for esport bettors. For punters, betting on esports practically is not different from betting on traditional sports, but for bookies offering bets on esports requires functions and operations, which are vastly different from the more traditional markets.
These four main changes have not taken place individually or in isolation from one another. In reality, there is an interplay of these four areas, each affecting, driving and promoting the other and ultimately changing the bookmakers’ industry and the betting market landscapes in the past two decades.