For over 60 years, the British have been able to partake in legal betting, provided that they’re over the age of 18. In the decades following 1960, the way in which we wager essentially went unchanged, with stalls at sports venues and retail bookmakers popping up from Warrington to Portsmouth and everywhere else in the UK.
In 2005, betting became a fully-fledged, regulated industry under the Gambling Act’s introduction of the Gambling Commission. Since then, the strategic regulatory body has become a world leader in the field, even being able to adapt to the rapid evolution of the scene in the years following its inception.
While much of sports betting has remained the same in its essence, the way in which we wager has evolved a great deal. From 1960 to 2005, the scene changed only a little, but has evolved drastically through to 2021. So, how has betting evolved, and is the new scene better for the Warrington bettor than it was less than 20 years ago?
Sports driving in the punters
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that, in the UK, football drives everything that relies on or draws from the sport. Football is a colossal industry, with devout followings down to the lower levels. While Warrington is slap bang in the middle of Liverpool and Manchester, Warrington Town of the Northern Premier League still commands a strong following.
In fact, the fastest-growing sport in the country is also football: women’s football. TV audiences continue to grow, especially for major competitions, and Sky Sports recently purchased the broadcast rights to the Barclays Women’s Super League. With more viewers will come more knowledgeable fans, and more knowledgeable fans know what to look for in the betting markets to capitalise on their inklings.
Just after football, somewhat surprisingly, is tennis. Men’s, women’s, doubles, and mixed doubles continue to be significant draws for punters, particularly when the four Grand Slams roll around. The narrow hierarchy in singles formats allows onlookers to essentially have a one-in-three or four shot at calling an outright winner. Furthermore, in-play betting has become huge for tennis fans reading the flow and momentum of a match.
Most UK sports fans follow several sports. In Warrington, the Warrington Wolves’ fixtures list for their campaigns in the sport of rugby league is closely watched, with the Super League rivalling the Premier League for popularity in these parts. Elsewhere, there’s rugby union, cricket, boxing, and even ice hockey boasts tremendous fan bases, too, as well as a hefty amount of betting interest.
Still, the sport that’s more intrinsically tied to betting than any other continues to be a major draw. Horse racing is, and always will be, a sport based around betting. The two cannot be separated, and one might even argue that horse racing wouldn’t exist as a sport without the gambling aspect. This distinctly British betting pastime is followed by the collection of popular US sports leagues, such as the NFL, NBA, and NHL.
The current state of UK legislation
The UK gambling industry has been able to thrive because of the ever-watchful eye of the Gambling Commission. As the rules are strict and enforced, backed by the powers granted under the Gambling Act 2005, people can trust anything with a UKGC licence sticker, knowing that they can open bet safely in a space that’s fair.
Along with the Gambling Act 2005 and the regulations crafted under the parent statute, the UKGC’s licence conditions and codes of practice also drive compliance with betting laws. In just the span of 2011 to 2020, the British gross gambling yield rose from £8.4 billion to £14.2 billion. Of course, a primary helper here is that the UKGC was quick to allow online betting to come in, provided that it adhered to its regulations.
A competitive space forcing competitive action
There are still some 7,500 betting shops across Great Britain, with three of those being situated in Warrington Town Centre – two of which are under the same brand – but the remote sector has become the most competitive sector. While land-based betting falls, per the industry report of the governing body, remote betting increases, primarily because it’s such a competitive area.
The high level of competition, made possible by the UKGC’s strict but fair regulations and sheer accessibility to the internet, forces brands to improve. Innovations needed to stand out have rapidly evolved sports betting, with the most obvious example being the bonuses. Bonuses have been around for some time, but regularly came with unfriendly wagering requirements. Now, you can find genuine free bets at UK bookies because one brand bucked the trend to win over customers, causing the rest to follow.
Tussling for the top spot through constant updates
User-friendly offers like the genuine free bets mentioned above an example of the innovation-driven evolution of sports betting in the UK. Others include live betting, in-play bets, cash-out features, and extensive betting apps – all of which are now essential factors in the grading and ranking of the best sites to bet at in the UK.
While their rankings list continues to change to reflect updates and developments across the leading brands, the ultimate online betting hub puts these key aspects that make a modern betting platform at the forefront of their listing decisions. Strictly recommending sites verified by the Gambling Commission, over 250 betting sites are explored in-depth, with rankings reviewed regularly to establish winners after each new update.
Right now, free bets and other promotions, the range of sports markets and bets, and the quality of the betting apps contribute significantly to each site’s rankings. Aspects like enhanced offs, in-play betting, cash-out, live customer support, and eSports betting also hold a lot of weight, further speaking to how far the industry has evolved from the land-based offering of a mere 16 years ago.
Sports betting has evolved tremendously in the UK, with the remote arm of the industry proving to be a hotbed for innovation in the long-stagnant sector.