The rise of the internet changed everything for bookmakers, including racecourse bookies. Suddenly, punters could bet on anything they wanted from the comfort of their own home, from an eSport event in China to the Cheltenham races in the UK.
With the former growing in prominence alongside the internet, it was just another bit of action online bookies could offer, but the latter, a well-established betting tradition at the core of many a standard bookie’s business… well, it was – and is – worrying.
No longer do people have to visit a pitch at the racecourse to place their bets, as it can all be done online, but does that mean the age of the racecourse bookie is well and truly over? Not quite; however, that’s not to say it’s still a viable option for aspiring bookmakers.
Are Racecourse Bookies Falling Out Of Favor?
The convenience of online bookmakers has been a real thorn in the side of in-the-flesh racecourse bookies. Not only is using online platforms completely effortless, but oftentimes, they can offer slightly better odds with lower fees, which, ultimately, is what the discerning player is looking for.
Sadly, this has led to some deterioration in the physical side of the industry at racecourses across the nation and indeed the world. People would much rather take advantage of favorable odds online than wait in line at an actual event to place a dicier bet with a racecourse bookie.
Now, this isn’t to say that online bookmakers will always offer better odds, as, on occasion, a more valuable play can be found at the racecourse, but, most of the time, players will find something more appealing online.
What’s more, even though big weekend events may have attendees in the tens of thousands, online bookmakers will always, always have an audience that dwarfs the crowds of the course hundreds or thousands of times over.
Simply put, more punters means more bets, which in turn leads to higher profits. So, are racecourse bookies falling out of favor? Yep… the numbers don’t lie.
As the years go by, more and more throw in the towel, and fewer choose to go into this side of the industry. But it’s not all doom and gloom for racecourse bookies.
The Enduring Racecourse Bookie
Although the racecourse bookie isn’t as prominent as they were, it’s unlikely that they will ever completely fall into obscurity, as certain players will always choose to take action in person at an event over playing online, and here’s why…
- The experience: A day at the races is kind of like a big party, and placing bets in person is one of the best parts of the experience.
For some players, using a racecourse bookie is kind of like buying and listening to vinyl records over streaming music; it’s just more satisfying, even if it’s more expensive and less practical.
- To support local business: Most racecourse bookies are local institutions, and although they’re still likely pulling in pretty good money, the online betting landscape has no doubt cut into their profits.
As such, many players consider betting in person an ethical obligation, a means of contributing to the local economy and keeping familiar faces fed rather than lining the pockets of faceless industry giants.
It’s the same reason someone might choose to pick up meat from their local butchers as opposed to one of the many superstores in their area.
- A distaste for online bookies: Some consider online bookies to be a little too practical. These platforms go down so easy players lose control and bet too often.
A solution for those who struggle with self-control is to only bet at events with racecourse bookies. But before you throw your hat in the racecourse, there’s something you need to know…
Racecourse Bookies — Survival Of The Fittest
Yes, the racecourse bookie seems set to stay, at least for the foreseeable future, but the meteor impact that was online bookmaking wasn’t without its fatalities.
The biggest names in racecourse bookmaking in each area were and are big enough to survive the blow, but for the smaller operations that perhaps aren’t quite as celebrated, it’s a real struggle getting by.
With most money crossing the desks of the big hitters in racecourse bookmaking, smaller names aren’t getting enough custom, at least not to sustain their in-person business plan — Believe it or not, it’s incredibly expensive to run a racecourse bookmaking operation.
Expenses Of Stall
A racecourse bookie may have to fork out hundreds of thousands to secure a good spot at a big event. Peripheral spots are available for much lower fees, but punters tend not to wander too far to find a stall, so it’s not uncommon for the far-flung spots to receive zero custom.
Then there are the smaller costs of the stalls themselves to factor in. Digital signs, transaction equipment, computers, the physical stand, and employees set racecourse bookies back tens of thousands of dollars.
As you can see, there’s a lot riding on setting up shop for an event, for if things don’t go as planned, not only will a bookie be profitless, but unable to cover the expense of the occasion.
Plus, not every event is a bustling weekend affair… racecourse bookies have to survive the ill-attended weekdays that can be a struggle even for the most renowned names in the business.
Thankfully, some courses offer free attendance for a few bookies in order to establish a starting price for horses on weekdays, but generally speaking, the weekends are the only time anyone makes any real money.
Are Online Bookies More Viable Than Racecourse Bookies?
While there’s still life left in the racecourse bookmaker if they’ve made a big enough name for themselves over the years, understandably, it’s no longer a viable option for new starters, as they simply won’t be able to gain the traction they need to form a sustainable business.
By contrast, almost anyone can get started as an online bookie, with pay per head software like BossAction, if they know what they’re doing and have certain resources to hand. Overheads are significantly lower, there is no real down period through the week, and more and more punters are choosing to use online platforms.
There’s nothing to stop you from trying to break the racecourse once you’re established online, but to begin with, it’s almost impossible to do, so our advice is to carve out a niche for yourself online.
Turnover is in decline for racecourse bookies, as is the number of bookies operating in this sphere, whereas the opposite is true for online bookmakers. Their takings and numbers have skyrocketed in tandem over the last 15 years.
Ultimately, convenience is king, and there’s nothing much anyone can do about it, so an online bookmaking business is a much more viable option for burgeoning bookies than an in-the-flesh operation at racecourse events.
The big names in racecourse bookmaking are almost certainly here to stay, but they eclipse the smaller names and inadvertently push them out of the game.
There’s still plenty of money to be made at the racecourse, but it’s almost impossible for newcomers to get a slice of the pie, meaning the only logical option is to go the online route, at least until you’ve made a big splash in the virtual sphere.