What Furniture Will You Find in a Sportsbook or Betting Shop

Long gone are the days when you had to visit bookmakers or a sportsbook or any kind of physical building to place a wager. It’s now so easy that you can make offshore sports betting wagers here from pretty much anywhere in the world, so many of you won’t get a chance to experience the ahem, “delights” of what those buildings used to be like. Let’s take a walk down memory lane with a look at the sights and smells of those dingy little shops.

Countless Betting Slips

As betting shops and the customers inside them are averse to technology, they still use betting slips. Whereas the online system allows users to search for various sports and markets instantly, the non-digital alternative is to use multiple pieces of paper. On a large sporting Saturday, a bettor may want to place a multiple-selection bet on several results spanning different sports. I.e., a patron could want to bet that England Rugby will triumph n, Leeds United will score over 2.5 goals, Ronnie O’Sullivan will win his snooker match and get a 147 break, that Katie Taylor will win her boxing fight in the first round. This would be easy on a betting app, but facilitating such a bet at a shop would require multiple betting selection slips, as most are usually dedicated to one sport.

Security Screens at the Counter

There are a lot of high emotions running wild when money is involved. People can lose money they cannot afford to, so volatile situations can ensue. A man who has just lost a £500 bet because his horse fell at the last hurdle despite leading the whole race might become flustered and try to vent his frustration on the shop staff.

Security screens are usually installed at the counter to prevent harm and discourage poor behavior, separating the staff from the customers. This is typically a plastic or Perspex divider, allowing them to communicate while ensuring no unwanted physical alterations occur.


Sometimes, they’ll have their own TV channel, i.e., William Hill TV or Ladbrokes TV, which will show coverage of specific sports. Most bookies will show a lot of horseracing content as this is typically free-to-air television, and the patrons inside the store are placing many bets on these events, so they are interested to see how their selections pan out in the races.

Slanted Surfaces

One common feature of betting shops is that every wall has a writing surface. These are typically for the clientele to prop up on while selecting. This is a pen-and-paper system, meaning bettors will use their motor skills to mark what they want to bet on. At peak times, several people can be leaning on these walls simultaneously, e.g., before a big horse race or soccer match.

Television Screens Showing Sports

Another key element of betting shop furniture is a wealth of television screens. While it all depends on the licensing rights they hold, some people will go to a betting shop, place a bet, and then watch the sporting fixture unfold with the added excitement that they could win some money.

Outdated Smells

Ok, smells are seldom a piece of furniture, but it is a common attribute within sports betting shops that they feel like part of furniture. Many years ago, in the UK, people could smoke freely in betting shops. While the rules changed with the smoking ban, the culture often didn’t; therefore, many people would go outside, smoke, and bring the smell of their cigarettes back in with them.

It is also challenging to remove the smell from 20-30 years of consistent smoke from a building, so without a proper refurb, many betting shop venues still harbor the smells from years ago.

General Worn-out Qualities

Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the last 30 years, you’ll appreciate that the internet has changed multiple industries. Some for better, some for worse. One party that laments the notion of connectivity is the venue-based live sports betting industry. Customers now didn’t have to visit these stores to place a bet on the sporting fixtures. Instead, they could bet on more markets on their computer and, later, on their phones.


Over time, the bettors stopped visiting the bookies. While some still visit these stores, they are not as popular as they used to be. As such, the income for these stores has significantly dropped, meaning they have less disposable income. By extension, they’ve had less of a budget to replace and upkeep the in-store furniture. When you visit these stores, you’ll probably see that every chair, table, surface, and fit looks tired. It is expected to see frayed old carpets and tacky chairs that no longer offer much comfort or support.

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