Sports betting culture in the UK

Betting has been ingrained in British culture for centuries. Historic royal horse meets helped give towns like Newmarket and Ascot their racing prestige, and the days of shady Victorian underground bookies helped give places like the East-end of London their own unique reputation. It’s fair to say therefore that sports betting in the UK has had a storied history. 

Since the large liberalisation of betting laws in the mid-20th century, betting is now a legitimate and exciting hobby enjoyed by millions across the country. Few markets have experienced such strong enthusiasm as sports betting however. In turn, a vibrant sports betting culture has emerged in the UK to rival that of any other nation.

 But just how did sports betting explode in the UK at such a rapid rate?

It’s in the nation’s DNA

Britain is home to a great deal of the globe’s most avidly followed sports. From games like football, rugby and cricket, to more individual pursuits like tennis, boxing and golf, we aren’t lying when we talk about trophies “coming home”. Brits are truly sporting mad, and millions of us watch, read about and participate in a myriad of sports every week. 

You’d be hard pressed to find a country where such a broad range of sports are enjoyed across the population, and whilst it is another integral part of British culture to be suitably self-deprecating about our sporting chances, few nations have had as much success in sporting competitions as the UK. 

It’s therefore unsurprising that such an avid sports betting culture has emerged to take advantage of the sporting enthusiasm in the UK, and this has only been complimented by the growth of technology over the last few decades.

Technology’s role in sports betting culture

Indeed. Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last 30 years (which you’d never get planning permission for in Britain) then you may have heard of the internet. Online betting debuted in the early 90s, and it’s fair to say it’s taken the UK by storm. Many internet bookies are now household names, and many have built their success off the back of the nation’s love for sports, and betting. 

Other more recent innovations like the near ubiquity of smartphones have allowed bookies to offer their services via even more platforms, alongside traditional bookies and betting venues. When you combine this with the wealth of sports on television, and its associated advertising opportunities, sports betting is a near constant presence in Britain, highlighted by the fact that half of all Premier League clubs donned betting firms on their shirts last season.

UK at the forefront of betting innovation

With sports betting so ingrained in British culture, punters can now choose from a huge variety of betting providers who have invested heavily in creating new and innovative betting markets and offers to captivate the UK’s penchant for sports betting. Traditionalists may enjoy the ritual of attending a high-street bookie in person, writing down their bet on a tiny blue pen, and cockily strolling in later in the day to collect their winnings, but those days are becoming increasingly outnumbered with many high st outlets set to close.

In fact, the natural progression for most leading UK bookmakers is to try and entice a wave of new punters; be it millennials or traditional bettors now having to make the switch online, and betting brands are making big strides in this area.

The proliferation of smartphones, and the way they have changed our lives, has given rise to the introduction of new features like ‘in-play’ betting that allow punters to bet in real-time as the action unfolds; a concept which is perfectly suited to the here and now culture we all demand. Betting features like this, coupled with an explosion in new promotions and the amount of innovative markets punters can now wager on offers a great option for new bettors, including the old-school blue pen and slip brigade who will no doubt be wooed by the growing choice they will be faced with when debating which match outcomes to back.

Future certainty

2020 has been pretty much impossible to predict, and therefore rather appropriately it would take a brave person to bet against another fundamental shift or trauma occurring this year. However, one thing we can be pretty certain in declaring is that the popularity of sports betting, and its entrenched role in British culture, in whatever guise, looks set to stay.

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