Since betting shops were re-legalised on May 1, 1961, it is estimated that 65billion wagers have been placed in Britain’s 8,500 venues. The industry currently contributes £3billion a year to the economy and employs 40,000 staff.
Way back in 1815, the first betting shops appeared in London and soon there were 400. But in 1853 the Act for the Suppression of Betting Houses put bookies out of business – legally – for almost 108 years. But it did not prevent hundreds of backstreet ones flourishing until the Sixties.
Dirk Vennix, chief executive of the Association of British Bookmakers, said: “Betting has become part of the fabric of British life over the past 50 years.
“Our industry has changed a lot since 1961. Gone are the blacked-out windows – we’re a modern business now.”
William Hill betting guru Graham Sharpe said: “Whether you are interested in the Grand National or the Royal Wedding, millions love a flutter