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01 Nov 15 20:42
Date Joined: 26 Jan 05
| Topic/replies: 20,557 | Blogger: STUDYFORM's blog
Given up, I've been defeated.
The overheads, the drop in take, customer numbers and margins.

A lovely shop too, I spent a fortune doing it up, as it had been a dump when I took it on. A reasonable customer base and I'm proud to say, no punters were ever peed off or not paid. We gave away refreshments and all was modern systems and we took bets on most things, to a bigger level than the big firms too.
My staff were well trained and understood the business and what the bets were about.
But ridiculous big pay outs all the time from Irish Lottery wins, fluke horse and cartoon racing, stupid football accas.

Last Saturday alone I paid over £600 on 3 separate bets (£1, £1 and £2 staked) all between 5.30pm and 8.10pm. This sort of thing is down to marketing and advertising and people learning to bet from Lotto marketing types with their small stake big win message. So you take bugger all but with the potential to pay out loads.

Add that to the FOBT's which seem to have paid out hand over fist - leading me to believe that the bigger firms have a different server for their machines than the small firms, in much the same way that SIS works.

We lost the lot - House, loans, savings, things we sold.
Some went to rogue traders on the house and money to repair their damage plus still do the work. The rest went in Bank charges, Licences - Especially the Gambling Commission, 1 shop, 1 licence.... nearly £10,000 in just over 4 years to them alone. I hate the Gambling Commission with a passion, it serves NO purpose at all. Premises Licence, duty, wages, rent, SIS (over £20K a year), footy coupons, early prices, accountancy etc etc etc ALL plus VAT which cannot be claimed back.
Now I'm skint and yesterday for the first time since March 2011 had a Saturday off and I was bored and quite miserable, to be honest.

But the industry is finished. There are hardly any small bookies left, and most of those have reduced their shop numbers.

My advice and it's advice I should have taken myself, is DO NOT open a betting shop.
They are all types of amusement arcade (events every minute) plus various machines and they all now on High streets and shopping centre.
Most of the community type shops have closed as their customer base has died off or they have less expendable income.

The online business has hoovered up most of the biggest losers. At least until the online punters cannot use cards or bank accounts any more. Then they revert to shop betting with what little cash they can raise. The whole set-up is based on having 1000's of outlets or an online presence, not for one or 2 shops.

I am now jaded, bitter and a bit angry. There's no assistance for struggling business in this country, no sympathy for bookmakers and a very different future for me.

Sorry if this is rambling and a bit long, but if I save just one family from going through what I have for the last 5 years, then I've done a good thing.
Pause Switch to Standard View I closed my shop this week.
Show More
Report twizzle22 November 3, 2015 7:38 AM GMT're the reason i decided to throw in the towelLaugh.As an aside and you might be interested i went for a drink with an old mate of ours the other day..Mick from Raceline he's doing well and living in Chigwell.
Report STUDYFORM November 3, 2015 8:37 AM GMT
Curious-c, There may be a little mileage in some conspiracy theories, I have a serious dislike of the organisation in question and they have lied to me on a few occasions and they really don't need to have done, but they've ripped me off for years anyway, without any extra shenanigans.

pumph, I might keep that as a reference if I need to go for a new job. Thank you.

moondan, It feels as if I was replacing the losses the people are having inflicted on them half the time anyway.

hardestgame, well done mate. We never used to take much on that race.
Report pumphol. November 3, 2015 2:02 PM GMT
Twizzle I haven't seen Mick for a while send him my regards if you see him again, glad to hear your life is now stress free Wink
Report roida November 3, 2015 2:11 PM GMT
pumphol. 03 Nov 15 01:09 
I used to do international correct scores on European & world cup qualifying matches & cleaned up on a couple of occasions in his shop

blind squirrels find nuts.
Report zipper November 3, 2015 2:15 PM GMT
Studyform... been  through your numbers   re running a one man band.. you  were not playing  snall re fobs   football accs.. laying silly bets that dont win oftern.. but when they do  and thet do  wipes you out  heres the rub  why did you not play on here ...laying   your OWN picks
ok  you would win ...  and theres no shop to shut ...think about it
Report pumphol. November 3, 2015 2:18 PM GMT
roida    03 Nov 15 14:11 
pumphol. 03 Nov 15 01:09 
I used to do international correct scores on European & world cup qualifying matches & cleaned up on a couple of occasions in his shop

blind squirrels find nuts.

Pathetic, comments on something you obviously know absolutely nothing about
Report pablo-fanque November 3, 2015 2:20 PM GMT
good luck in the future studyform
Report donny osmond November 3, 2015 2:22 PM GMT
good luck studyform

onwards and upwards !
Report ONSLOW1974 November 3, 2015 2:26 PM GMT
Study - I wish you all the best for the future.
Interesting what you say ref the FOBTs.
I worked for a Indy firm when they were first introduced
to the shops. To begin with the shops I covered (relief manager)
seemed forever to be paying out. But over a period of time things
turned round and by the time I left the firm was making plenty on
them. Whether this was built into the machines software as a
enticement to get the punters hooked, I'm not sure.
Just a thought - anyways G/L be lucky!!
Report duffy November 3, 2015 2:29 PM GMT
good luck studyform
Report zipper November 3, 2015 2:30 PM GMT
been here 13 years   seen this coming re turnover  no small shop can turnover 5 million a year on here anyone can do that  thats why i sold out    same with on course firms    turnover is well down  the internet runs the game now
Report roida November 3, 2015 2:39 PM GMT cares  no-one listens no-one tekks any notice.
Report zipper November 3, 2015 3:40 PM GMT
roida  know what i dont give a stuff... what i post i  know is right
Report zipper November 3, 2015 3:42 PM GMT
good night  thats me out 3.45   won a few quid  ... thats what its all about
Report roida November 3, 2015 3:50 PM GMT
gan suck susies ( . ) ( . )'s
Report November 3, 2015 3:52 PM GMT
Sorry to read this study
All the best for the future.
Report ted_bovis November 3, 2015 4:45 PM GMT
many years ago i worked for a south coast bookmaker who said (to anyone who would listen) how bad/disastrous it would be for the independant's if the big firms owned s.i.s. how they would get greatly discounted charges for the more shops they had while the 1/2/3 shops owners etc would bear the brunt, the s.i.s./turf tv charges have sky rocketed since the nineties. i half owned three shops in the early naughties and even then the expenses just kill you even with a busy shop taking 18/20k a week and over 3000 slips, you cant run a shop like that with just a part time cashier we needed three/four staff on a saturday and the expenses just pile up and tax and levy on profits of course whether they were real profits or not(made your expenses).where i live we had six independant's all are gone so i understand your frustration at having to call it a day (and i know how difficult it is to finally accept it isn't going to change)

best of luck studyform in whatever you decide to do
Report BobbyPeru November 3, 2015 5:18 PM GMT
Sorry to read this Study.

Good luck to you and your family for the future mate.
Report STUDYFORM November 3, 2015 9:43 PM GMT
Zipper. Mostly because I'm not lucky enough.

Onslow, It's impossible to really establish what really goes on in the world of FOBTs, I liken it to Horse meat in ready meals. I mean how would anyone know?

tedbovis, That is a substantial take of cash and slips. These days most shops, including mine, don't take much more than half of that. This is due to the decline in punter numbers and, counter intuitively, people not being interested in all the peripheral rubbish that's being hurled at them from 8am to 10pm. They simply don't stay in the shops all day like they used to.
You are absolutely right, it is frustrating and there's always this niggling feeling that you could have traded out of it. Although every time there have been a good couple of weeks and stuff gets paid for, following right behind are 4 or 5 losing days (surely something unique to this industry) which set you right back to where you were and the need to inject a bit more cash to cover the bets and off we go again.

Thanks for all the good wishes once again. If they come true, the future could be bright!
Report homefortea November 4, 2015 6:59 PM GMT
Roida I know that you live in a different World but " nowadays the recession has caught up and not many can afford to gamble"
This Country has the highest minimum wage in the World and also the highest welfare bill per head of population..

Agree with the rest of your post but do not let politics get in the way of the facts...
Report homefortea November 4, 2015 7:16 PM GMT
Joined: 26 Jan 05 | Topic/replies: 15,162 | Blogger: STUDYFORM's blog
Homefortea, Super soccer closed their shops and were sold to Manny Bernstein about a year ago. No one else makes 2 part coupons.
There were plenty of guaranteed price races and football wise I know the prices seemed far worse than online, but then so are those of the big firms.
What the RP prints and what the coupons show in their shops is different to the actual odds given when the bet is placed. They just don't tell anyone.
As for the horses, I didn't really encounter many objections to the prices and whenever I checked, they were in line with the other shops, anyway, given how unprofitable it was to run did I really need any more people who only came in when they 'Scented value'?
I had a fair number of decent punters and never really found prices an issue.
I know the folk of Super soccer personally, they have always seemed fair to me. Just remember shop prices are never as good as online (oddschecker) ones. Online simply doesn't have the overheads or tax burden, despite government changes to the contrary (because it cannot be policed).

Not having a pop but never deal with that super soccer filth..
Two part coupons you must be settling by hand in that case..I would have a printer..
If you think that the "super soccer" prices were in line with other shops then you are best out of the game..
That firm is a disgrace to a once proud industry and I am convinced that they are owned by SIS/alleged bookmakers and have a mandate to bust the remaining Indies..
Quite simply what do they have to offer - they will not lay their own prices...THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN A CLUE..
Report pumphol. November 5, 2015 12:13 AM GMT
homefortea    04 Nov 15 19:16 

Not having a pop but

You just have
Report STUDYFORM November 5, 2015 12:54 AM GMT
Doesn't matter really, Super Soccer was owned by a bloke whose name begins with a T from a North west city and whom I've met on many occasions (not by sis). Yes, my settling was manual (using brains instead of barcodes) no need for a single shop to spend another 30K on EPOS. They were very much a member of the independent bookie scene, not only because they had shops, but because they relied on the indies for all their trade.
I've never had a problem with laying their prices and even used them for hedging a few years ago. However, as I say, it doesn't matter as they closed and sold ages ago.

Shop prices, as I say are largely in line with each other, they have to be otherwise bookies would fall to arbers.
Tbh, I think it quite simple, if you don't like the odds, bet with someone who'll lay you at odds you can agree upon.
The main thing is though, shop prices are not the same as online prices. Therein lies a big part of the issue as far as trade goes.

The bigger firms use both because it suits them (a bit like motorway service firms charging more than other branches, because it brings in 2 separate of income).
They then ban any winning punters and the indies then have to take them on.

finally, btw, I agree with pumphol.
Report sean rua November 5, 2015 8:11 AM GMT
Please keep us informed, Studyform.

Interesting to see how "mug bets" were the ones that hurt, bc they were hard to defend against.
Does it follow that these "small outlay/high return, chance bets" are probably the best for most punters?
Report sevey November 5, 2015 8:46 AM GMT
Super Soccer Fixed Odds Was An Arbers Gold Mine a Few Seasons Back
Report IanP November 5, 2015 10:25 AM GMT
Sorry to read this Studyform.  I've actually been in your shop a couple of times (I'm assuming it was the one opposite the Tescos on the road to Lye). You certainly spent some money on it as it was dump when Ostlers had it.  I used the shop quite regularly up to about ten years ago as I travelled along the road to work every day.  There used to be a couple of guys in the back doing in-running at one time.
Report STUDYFORM November 5, 2015 10:29 AM GMT
I have found, sean rua, that as a bookie you should not take a view on any event.
for example.
Not that I know anything about Rugby but it was obvious South Africa would beat Japan, so if someone had come in and had £50 on Japan to win at 100/1 I would have got rid of (hedged) it. Handy though £50 is, even the most unlikely things can happen. The thing is, that whenever someone puts a bet on at big odds we're actually just having the opposite bet at small odds. So, a 610/1
Report STUDYFORM November 5, 2015 10:39 AM GMT
So, a 610/1 Irish lottery bet, is a 1/610 bet for me. therefore I need 611 losing bets to make £1 for each winner.
Given that I've been discouraging the Irish lottery and got it down to taking about £120 on a Weds and £250 on a Saturday, getting 2 winners of £611 last Sat just shows how bad the big odds bets are for us.
Not that this isn't obvious, it's just a different way of thinking about it.

Yes, IanP. I spent a bloody fortune on it Cry.
We must have met then. Did you win?
I might put a few before and after pics on if I can find them.
Report swift-tuttle November 5, 2015 12:28 PM GMT
this thread is a fascinating read
I'm going to re-read it a few times and even then I probably won't be qualified to comment

just to say, best of luck in whatever you do from now on STUDYFORM
Report Lex November 5, 2015 12:52 PM GMT
A sad tale, but as one door closes another opens. GL Mr Form

I dont understand how you lost out to FOBT's though, the odds being obviously built in. I understand that fruit machines have a fixed payout, but even so - thats got to be bad business for the FOBT suppliers?
Report STUDYFORM November 5, 2015 1:43 PM GMT
The odds (percentage) is built into each game, Lex.
They vary from around 90% to 98% depending on the game being played.
The machines themselves have no percentage built in to them, the odds are based on global (across the country) play and margins are very small. The only real way to ensure a decent profit on the machines is to ensure they're played A LOT. Hence the bigger bookies having their shops in areas which would previously only had amusement arcades, or in other areas of high footfall. They then depend on the addictive nature of particularly, roulette.
There is also the cost of any rental agreement of the machines and a profit share if they win and 25% of any tax on any profit to take into account.
Funnily enough, when I got the roulette games removed from my machines, they made me sign a new rental only contract with no profit share aspect. Therefore when they finished say £500 up on the month, I still had to pay 25% tax on that, plus £650 rental.... plus bloody VAT, leaving the business about £400 down.
So much for being 50% of the earnings!!!
Maybe they know the machines don't make very much in certain places, or at least that mine didn't.
The OTC business has dropped as much because of the big firms current modus operandi as it has from the Horse racing industry being too greedy.
Even with that though there was so nearly enough to maintain the shop. Well, at least it felt like it.
Report nortons November 5, 2015 2:06 PM GMT
As much as i applaud your stance in removing the roulette, surely that was commercial suicide in the sense that the majority of turnover would be roulette based?
Report zipper November 5, 2015 2:12 PM GMT
just let it go  sorry   but the one man bands have no chance
take it  studyform you have a  betfair account...  backs or lays is the way to go
Report reb November 5, 2015 2:42 PM GMT
Seems you've been a bit unlucky, STUDYFORM. Thanks for telling your very interesting story on here. Hope things get better for you.

I rememeber  asking a bookmaker acquaintance many years ago (before the internet), if a person needed to know a lot about horses if they were going to open a bookies. His response : "You don't need to know anything about horses; you need to know about people."
Report zipper November 5, 2015 3:04 PM GMT
reb  very trueLove
Report STUDYFORM November 5, 2015 3:10 PM GMT
nortons, Yes it was.... a bit, except for times when a roulette punter might be 3 or 4K up and there's no way of protecting or hedging big losses and it puts a serious dent in the cashflow. In the year I was without roulette I reckon it cost in the region of £10k to us. Not enough to rescue the business really, indeed it might have prolonged the agony. You are right though, taking the moral stance didn't help anyone much, but I did live with myself a bit better. I saw some bad things happen to people due to the roulette and one bloke (not from this shop) I knew, committed suicide.

reb, He was quite right and now horses are even less of the turnover than ever, even more right these days, but I'd add: You need to know a bit about numbers as well as about people.
No 2 punters are alike, but I like to think we had good rapport with ours, we knew most of their names and made them feel welcome, not that there were many disputes but if there were they were dealt with quickly, fairly and amicably.
I should imagine this applies to most modern independents. It's the things we can do that the big firms can't.

zipper, I am letting it go mate, the next thing I do will not be gambling related and I promise, well hope, (in the next few months) to tell a happier tale than this one.
Report zipper November 5, 2015 3:17 PM GMT
study  good to hear that  ... let it go  you need too... been on here 3 or 4 days  loads have said   sorry to hear your story  ... just let it go ...zipper
Report Jimmy Moran November 5, 2015 3:30 PM GMT
Studyform, I Got out of my shop early nineties, sis killed me, was getting very hard then.Felt like i was running to stand still. But 25 years later im still here and life goes on keep ya chin up. I know how you feel
Report TheBaron November 5, 2015 3:50 PM GMT
Everything has a life span...Dinosaurs, coal mines,video rental shops, high st bookies...eventually Betfair. 

Its easy to tell with hindsight when the game is up.  Good luck.
Report STUDYFORM November 5, 2015 4:03 PM GMT
you must be really old now jimmy Wink
SIS and Turf TV together would be in the region of £33,000+ a year now (inc fecking VAT)
Which I'm guessing is about 5 times more than you'd have been paying.

TheBaron, with the possible exception of Dinosaurs (and even them I'm not sure) not much has come along to replace that lot.
Like Spangles and Opal Mints. Sad
Report STUDYFORM November 5, 2015 4:05 PM GMT
out of interest... Shop when I took it on

SHOP AFTER I DID IT UP.... The only 2 pictures I have of it.

Report pumphol. November 5, 2015 4:06 PM GMT
TheBaron    05 Nov 15 15:50 
Everything has a life span.

Well most things, zipper could drone on for eternity Plain
Report stewarts rise November 5, 2015 4:16 PM GMT
Nice original name, must have taken ages to think that one up!Grin
Report themightymac November 5, 2015 4:33 PM GMT
Some difference studyform. You were just unlucky paying out on them mug bets. Why did you not hedge the liability on the horse multis after the first couple won?

Good luck with any new venture.
Report Lightbulbs Fan Club November 5, 2015 4:36 PM GMT
Very good, honest thread and the OP deserves lot of credit.....I can tell a similar tale about on course bookmaking, where the exes and the driving, combined with collapsing turnover made it extremely unviable *after around 15 years in the game....miss the banter and getting out the house, but things move on. I'm sure your excellent attitude will stand you in good stead going
Report themightymac November 5, 2015 4:40 PM GMT
You will always get old punters who pop in the betting shop when having a few pints but no serious gambler will bet in shops. 20 years time there will be no local bookies. Internet has killed off betting shops and lots of other small businesses.
Report STUDYFORM November 5, 2015 4:52 PM GMT
Themightymac, I did. All the time. As well as very expensive potential football accas and Irish lottery.
Quite often there would be a 25p Lucky 15 where the 1st 2 won at say 12/1 and 25/1 with a couple of 10/1 shots still to run. That would cost us a couple of hundred to get rid of and then the last 2 would both lose, as they should.
net result. £3.75 taken, £120 paid out, £200 or more paid to hedging.
I used to as a general rule of thumb keep anything up to £700 ish, depending on how the day/month was going, how much the stake was (£500 at 2/1 for example, might be stood), get rid of liabilities above that, or at least spread the load.

Lightbulb, I've helped out/worked on course and seen the decline too. Their margins are so small now, exes ridiculous, takings down loads. Like the shop situation, I think it's the enjoyment of the work that makes us do it for longer than we should.
Report themightymac November 5, 2015 4:57 PM GMT
You`ve just been unlucky then mate.

I`ve been betting 3 numbers on the Irish Lottery, for fun, twice a week for over 5 years and never had anything back.
Report Knight Commander November 5, 2015 4:59 PM GMT
themightymac - sounds like you're the unlucky one in that scenario Wink
Report roida November 5, 2015 5:01 PM GMT
mighty doesnt realise number 78 isnt in the draw
Report themightymac November 5, 2015 5:06 PM GMT
You might have told me earlier Roida Cry
Report themightymac November 5, 2015 5:13 PM GMT
Old guy got Lottery up. 93 years old with dicky ticker. His daughter was scared to tell him in case he had heart attack. She went to doctor for advice. "Don`t worry", said doctor, "He is due his annual health check Tuesday and I will break it to him gently".

Doctor is checking him out with stethoscope and whispers to him, "Tell me Jim, what would you do if you won 10 million on the Lottery?"

"I would give half to you doctor", he replied and the doctor dropped dead with a heart attack.
Report STUDYFORM November 5, 2015 5:36 PM GMT

I have a theory about the lottery.
Consider this:
There is a big bucket with a million balls in it you get to pay a pound and pick a ball out.
If you pick out number 452,333 (for example) you win £900,000.
How many goes would you imagine it would take before someone pulled the winning ball out?
well, I'd say there was a 90% chance it would be before the 900,000th pick.
Or put another way, big firms take millions of pounds on the lotteries, so there's enough to cover a full bucket with some to spare in case it took 2,000,000 dips before someone picked the winner out. (losers get put back in)
Anyway, this is roughly how the lottery works.

Another thing.

If on the lottery loads of people win, they reduce the prize. At the bookies the odds are fixed and pay outs full.

It's amazing how many people think that winnings from some sort of "Irish lottery fund" and don't realise they're having a bet.
A VAST majority of lottery players don't put ANY other bets on.
It is a big waste of time.
One regular puts £2 on 3 numbers all three draws. One Saturday his 3 numbers came up in 2 of the draws!
Report nortons November 5, 2015 6:24 PM GMT
Very honest answer Studyform and good luck to you in the future,As an aside when people make judgments on probability regarding Irish Lottery,Fobts etc, you only have to look on the Skybet Supersix result each week.Six matches,select one correct score and most weeks around 6 people will have selected 5 correct scores and got the other result,unbelievable but true.
Report pixie November 5, 2015 6:34 PM GMT
I am an independent bookmaker with a betting shop and have every sympathy for you, but I would have strongly advised you not to get rid of your FOBTs and not to discourage punters from placing bets on the irish lottery. It's a turnover game, mainly - the more you take the more you make. Having read your comments on here and seen the shop-fit, it clearly was a very well run business which no doubt, the punters you had enjoyed using. However, if it hasn't got the location with a high footfall and/or excellent parking you are always going to struggle to bank the £4k a week required to pay the overheads and give yourself a working wage.

I agree with you that the Gambling Commission are an absolute disgrace. Charging independent bookmakers to subsidize the costs for the large multiples whereby we pay £1,600 per shop per year and the Multiples pay a little over a hundred! It makes me very angry the fact that they have just lied to us and have had the cheek all these years to claim that this is fair just goes to show what sh1ts they are! Also, they are completely and utterly unnecessary and should be disbanded - there were never any more problems without them before they were drawn up and they have proven to be utterly toothless when it comes to the big on-line boys laundering money.

All the best for the future, you seem a very decent chap and once this is behind you and you are succeeding in your new venture it will be just a distant memory, with you remembering the bits you enjoyed and not the crap of having to meet the bills and laying winning bets!
Report zilzal1 November 5, 2015 7:02 PM GMT
Many condolences Study, coincidence that, for a few months, i was a relief manager for Masseys in the east end (april-June 79) Watney Market, Bow, Mare i might have bumped into you

Best wishes for the future
Report jackdave November 5, 2015 7:10 PM GMT
If you have paid taxes in previous years make sure your accountant gets you a tax rebate as you should be able to carry back your losses to previous years good luck these are hard times for many people
Report Blackrock November 5, 2015 7:35 PM GMT
I had a bookies in the mid/late 90's before FOBT's. Tax to customs was 6.75% of turnover. Overheads were high as well. Making it pay isnt as easy as people think.

In my first week as owner lost 5 grand on Lotto to a customer. I hated numbers bets. Somebody was always taking any profit away.

Like Studyform laid a whole host of big payouts for small stakes. Decided to get before out before i lost my sanity. A good friend of mine has a few shops. Laid a footy acc returning over 50 grand for a &2 stake.

A year later done 30,000 twice, on one weekend Euro Millions numbers.
I have seen his figures regarding  FOBT's, and some shops trade at 5-6% profits and some have minus figs. Dont know the reasons why, but Studyforms posts def ring true with me.

Best of luck with your future Study.
Report STUDYFORM November 5, 2015 8:15 PM GMT
Pixie, I didn't get rid of the FOBT's Just the roulette content. Parking was OK but the location, although a quite large catchment area and mainish road, was still a bit secondary, in the old days it would have been ideal. You're right about the footfall, we could NEVER tell when it was going to be busy. 4K a week!!! your overheads are even more than mine (or your wages are too much Mischief)
I only ever had 1 visit from the GC, massive coincidence was that it was on the day of the Wolverhampton show, not long after I'd made the papers about the FOBTs. They, from the time I first applied for my licence, have proved to be expensive, without knowledge of anything, high-handed and bullying.
They even threatened to close me down (within 7 days) once over a minor technicality, I wrote, phoned, contacted a solicitor, justified myself and they just ignored me, which was their way of saying "alright then".
There is no need for the GC. All they do is what was being done already, but make loads of fuss about "problem gambling" and "money laundering" whilst agreeing with whatever nonsense the big firms pretend to be doing.
I have wondered what would happen if they found criminal activity in a, let's say, Koral's shop would they take Koral's licence away?
No they wouldn't.
But a minor infraction of some unnecessary rule and they'd close an indie at the drop of a hat, because it then looks like they're being effective.

zilzal I worked for Masseys for almost the exact same time you did, on relief in the east end. I was 18 in 1979 and was at Corrals by October. I worked at Watney Mkt a few times (in the corner next to the pub, right?), and worked at Bow the day Troy won the Derby. My parents used to put bets on at the shop next to the Essex Arms (Leytonstone rd) and that was where I grew up.  Small world eh?

jackdave, it was never that good. Sad

Blackrock, thanks. It really has just become tougher since then.
Report zilzal1 November 5, 2015 8:25 PM GMT
Yep small world, from South Woodford myself. Some right times.there was a small shop they had where the girl cashier seemed to be the biggest punter Cool ended up havig a drink with her afterwards and one thing led to another and i ended up gong back to Canning town with her

The brother answered the door holding a Axe Plain

i feckin hated those single copy watney market i even got bets written on wallpaperLaugh
Report STUDYFORM November 5, 2015 8:42 PM GMT
I worked one day only at a shop, I think, called Worship Street - near Liverpool St station. I can't remember his name, but there was an old bloke managing the shop, he seemed to be about 70, but then I was only 18. It was a quiet shop, only did about 100 slips a day, mostly to office workers.
Anyway... just after I went in there and met him for the first -and only- time, he said
"I've got a big piece of advice for you, you're young, and you need to remember this forever"
What could this be? Was there some magical key to successful life? Maybe there was, but I never found out because to my shame I never really stuck to it.
"Just remember son"....
Here it is I thought. And here it was.

Report sean rua November 6, 2015 9:32 AM GMT
Nice one, Studyform! Laugh

And a good, intelligent, realistic, thread, imo.

Ye say "don't have an opinion about a bet": isn't that what the bookies are always being accused of doing nowadays ( post internet)?
Maybe they're just doing the right thing for their business?Sad

I think that 'tis probably true that, in the main, the good independent betting shop is like the good, old-fashioned, boozer, where folk drank good beer and had a chat and the craic,
a thing of the past.
Pity, imo.
Young kids, however, would probably not even know or care. Sadly, they are the future customers for somebody.
Report Brian November 6, 2015 9:53 AM GMT
I think you are spot on Sean rua.

Up until about 15 years ago, I used to spend my Saturday afternoons and some evenings in an independent bookies a couple of miles away from where I live. There was a good crowd there (regularly mostly) and it was enjoyable experience (I actually went there for enhanced place terms). What with the internet, ATR/RUK I stopped going there and 3/4 years ago I was passing by and went in and it was empty, the SIS was audio only and if you wanted to watch the race you watched the owners TV on the counter. It was so sad and I wasn't surprised to hear that it closed down a few months later.
Report unbiased November 6, 2015 10:58 AM GMT
Studyform,were you certain that your staff were 100% straight,as you didn't say who helped you in the shop?The incidence of dishonest staff,from the many stories I have heard over the years,is massive.Hopefully you had a good team,and that wasn't the case.
Report oldbean November 6, 2015 12:25 PM GMT
a facanating read, as i too am an independent bookmaker with a stand alone shop in the republic.. im just curious about a few things, u talked about horrible luck in the horses lotto football ect ect, had u not limits displayed? im not having a pop, but we have to cut our cloth according to our measure.. im sure when paddy power opened his 1st shop he hadnt 100k + limits on footie lotto etc, for example i have a 1k cap on forecasts/tricasts, virtuals, 3k cap on numbers lottos , 5k cap on footie acca etc, as u probably are well aware the vast majority of lads including myself like to bet in 5s 10s and 20s, why cater for the 1 percent.. ??       i honestly wish u all the very best, my day will come too, there is no question about that, the online is just made for gamblers, discreet faceless and anonaymous.. sean
Report howard November 6, 2015 12:47 PM GMT
As you say love of the job and making money are two separate things. I'm not surprised the Midlands kept a shop like this going the longest. Sociable people. It gave a false impression of where things have been heading for 25 years. FOBT's were the only "positive "in this time so you not liking them was a real problem. By the way be careful about another business. If you think the masses have little money now ( apart from maxing credit ) just wait until the almost certain "bank closed " notices  2016.
Report STUDYFORM November 6, 2015 12:52 PM GMT
Unbiased, it's something that happened to me many years ago and I'm sure this wasn't a problem. Plus I was there most of the time and had all the safeguards in place, time checks for the tills and a camera and cctv. You're right though and it was always something to be on your guard about.

oldbean, Yes you're right. I had a £100K limit on horses, £20K on dogs, £5k on cartoons and didn't take tricasts on them, £50K limit on football.
All of these were more than covered by hedging limits (which were bigger). It was more a case of not really keeping enough of the take and the gradual leakage of money - mostly overheads - than taking big hits. The big hits, which to be fair, never came close to any limits, didn't help but weren't the final nail in the coffin either. That said, I think you're wise to do as you are doing, as long as the punters are aware, you should get the ones who bet within your means.

Brian, This is now the way of things. Most Saturdays for example, as soon as the racing started, around 1.30 ish, the shop would be empty for an hour or more!
There were regulars and we may have had 70 or 80 people in the shop but they'd only be there 20 or 30 mins then go home. Testimony, I believe to the overwhelming nature of the SIS output.

sean, I don't see how bookies can have too much of an opinion these days given the sheer volume of betting opportunities over the vast array of sports and other stuff there is to bet on.

howard. Yep. I completely agree, the biggest problem of all is that people are skint. Rents and Mortgages added to utilities mean that there's no expendable income left after food. It's easy to bet online and have nothing left for the shops and too many reasonable sized punters are now big sized FOBT punters and they hide away in busy shopping areas.
Report unbiased November 6, 2015 12:52 PM GMT
I asked about having honest staff working in the shop,as an indy I know of had a bad egg working for him for quite a time before discovering what was happening.Meanwhile it is the norm with the firms,hence the large turnover of staff,
Report ted_bovis November 6, 2015 1:42 PM GMT
hi referring to earlier thread i did manage to sell the shop with decent take/slips to jennings (other two had to close one was in brighton and unless you know the area you wouldnt believe how hard it is to get a decent percentage there)we had to fight in court against ladcrooks to get that shop, barristers an all - they even objected on parking grounds even though there was a car park directly outside for twenty cars or so - since then licensing rules have changed and you often see shops almost or actually next to each other (as in hailsham east sussex, hills and corals side by side)so the days of selling single shops to larger firms for decent prices seem to have almost gone as if there's enough business in the area they are more than prepared to open in opposition and wait for you to fold and are prob more interested in doing deals with other big firms closing shops to make each others busier - shame times have changed and you couldn't sell yours, sounds like you were doing a good job with your customers and again wish you well for the future
Report CLYDEBANK29 November 6, 2015 6:12 PM GMT
I don't think it's anything to do with people being skint.  The standard of living is much higher than when bookies were at their peak.  It's changing lifestyle choices, spending patterns and advertising that enhances both the major brands, but also always plugs online and mobile betting.
Report STUDYFORM November 6, 2015 6:39 PM GMT
Ted, A great shame, yes. One thing that's always puzzled me about the big firms is why they try SO hard to squeeze small ones out of business, There's no doubt they do.
Do they see us as a threat? Do they have staff trying to make a name for themselves?
The RP and SIS and the GC all seem to work to the click of a Big firm's finger.
If it'd been 15 years ago, assuming I wanted to turn it in, I'd have easily got 6 figures for the shop.

Clydebank, The average standard of living doesn't imo keep up with or reflect who actually has the money. On the whole the better off are earning more, the less well off (the pool from which most betting shops punters come) have less. BUT, I agree with all the things you blame on the changes too. There's no one thing then, just a combination of factors
Report Baggers November 6, 2015 9:31 PM GMT
Study, don't get on here much these days, others things take up my time, sorry to hear, hope you and the other half are ok, you know where I am, mail me, PM me, if you need a chat or a break

Someone told me of this thread so needed to come on and post, might have a bit of something to throw your way to keep the boredom away, not paid but well connected, let me know

Report STUDYFORM November 6, 2015 10:14 PM GMT
Hello Dave, I hope you and yours are well. PM on its way soon.
Report nobbybarnesranoverthewrongtrip November 7, 2015 7:34 AM GMT
Sorry to hear how things turned out mate. You're a good guy with plenty of character so you'll make a come back.
Report STUDYFORM November 7, 2015 8:46 AM GMT
Thanks nobby, I predict that you are someone I'll be seeing in my new role.
Which btw, will have nothing to do with gambling.
Report TheNorfolkMafia November 7, 2015 8:59 AM GMT
We all wish you, Good Luck, always!

Report zipper November 7, 2015 12:52 PM GMT
Study  the big firms  DONT GAMBLE  any smart punter gets closed down... mugs   can have anything they wont on ..... re the  big hits  ok it hurts a one man band   say 50k on a soccer 10 timer... but not when you have 2000 mshops.......they play the numbers
Report Jack Bauer '24' November 7, 2015 1:25 PM GMT
Best of luck in the future, Study. You've always been a gentleman on here.
Report cooperman12 November 7, 2015 2:10 PM GMT
Talking of rogue staff, i took over a small independent a few years back, it had been closed about 18 months as the previous owner had done a runner so to speak, but i hired the same guy who worked for him as i'd heard he had a good reputation and i wanted to keep the continuity, as he could be of help regarding the punters etc. Two weeks into the job and i was telling him of a story regarding the Grand National when i was working for a large chain, and how we took so much money prior to the race that i had to hide it on the premises and couldn't find it for two days. He then told me a similar thing happened to him with the previous owner, and how he'd found two grand in a first aid box three months after the National (The owner hadn't a clue), so i asked him what did he say when you told him? "Tell him" he said, no chance, that was my drinking fund for the year. I nearly fell off the chair! Anyway to cut a long story short i sold the shop soon after and despite my reservations about him to the new owner (and the above story) he insisted on keeping him on. I had no security whatsoever during my ownership, but i knew the business inside out and i'm certain he didn't try it on with me as the shop was reasonably profitable, and i kept him on his toes by checking things in his presence etc etc. Anyway a few months into the new guys ownership and the shop is hemorraging money, so i call and in one day for a chat with the owner, he's out at the time and this guy is behind the counter on betfair, and a quick glance at the screen before he hurriedly changes page shows him red for a couple of hundred quid on a particular horse. Mmm! My suspicions are arroused, so after a chat with the owner i need to get access to this guys betfair a/c. After a few false starts we manage to get him into the pub next door one day during the lunch break, and hey presto he leaves his betfair a/c open, so i jump straight to his p&l for the last three months, minus almost 7 grand for a married guy earning a couple of hundred quid per week. The new owner wary of unfair dismissal claims etc etc sold up within a short period.
Report duncan idaho November 7, 2015 2:27 PM GMT
similar story for so many independent stores across the board...i ran a bookshop for several years which was a great specialist shop but couldnt stay profitable in face of Waterstones and nothing but coffee shops on the High St soon
Report STUDYFORM November 7, 2015 5:10 PM GMT
zipper, Big firms don't need to gamble. Small ones have no choice. Just imagine there are 3 punters in the shop each putting a bet on the next Dog race. They all back Trap 4 to win at 5/1 for £10. I cannot cover the book, there are no other bets on the race. It turns out to be a straight bet. Trap 4 wins, I lose £150, anything else wins I make £30.
This happens a lot.

cooperman, A bookmaker mate of mine with a few shops caught one employee bang to rights. The employee then had the temerity to claim for unfair dismissal, which was not upheld. So my mate won his case, but was lumbered with over £1000 legal costs! I also in a previous life caught a thieving git working for me. The easiest way out was just sack him on the spot (after getting legal advice) with a witness present and threaten him with calling the police and doing him for stealing. He went quietly. It is a minefield, hence the need to be vigilant, check on them all the time and be very "hands-on". As for not knowing how much was knocking about after the National that's bad accounting. We always did the end of day paperwork and it HAD to balance, even on National day.

Duncan, Yes it's the way of society. Mass marketing, big business, rich non tax-paying opposition, all squeezing the small (usually more honest) businesses into closure.
The newsagent near my shop had been there for over 30 years when a pub over the road was demolished to make way for a Tesco Express. They majored on cut price sweets. Locals (who say they care but don't) used to go to him to buy a lottery ticket, then, astonishingly, go over the road to buy their papers. Within a couple of years he had to retire, skint. His turnover had dropped from £10K a week to £4K a week. It should be no surprise the high streets are dead.

Norfolk, jack Bauer, Thank you.
Report duncan idaho November 7, 2015 8:56 PM GMT
90% of people are governed by one thing only...price. Drives me mad when people complain about sh!t Customer Services depts etc, why do you think they're sh!t? cos they drive down costs to keep prices low COS THAT IS ALL YOU REALLY CARE ABOUT
Report STUDYFORM November 7, 2015 10:28 PM GMT
Not only are they governed by price, they're governed by price even when the price isn't the best!
Like when an advert says "Buy this latest electronic cheese grater for only One-nine-nine". Then the public, most of whom do what they're told - which is what advertisers rely on, go to the store and buy one. When if they bothered looking round they could get the same thing for about 90 quid.
Customer service is a thing of the past, it now primarily exists as a job title. It's why I despair about folk saying "you should use small shops and smaller businesses" and then don't. A contributing factor toward this thread really.
Report noobile November 8, 2015 12:32 PM GMT
the above post is spot in
Near where i live there is a small indie with a few shops, pays treble odds L15's, money back on short heads, all singles bog and will take decent bets, yet the corals nearby is busier.

People are like sheep sometimes.

Best of luck studyform, you did you best now move on mate.
Report TheGoddess November 8, 2015 1:05 PM GMT
The #AskBigMac Show - Episode #7

Big Mac talks about the future for Independent Bookmakers and how all punters will be worse of without the INDY.

Good luck in the future STUDYFORM
Report katverrat November 8, 2015 1:28 PM GMT
Commiserations studyform - I had to make the same decision some 16 mnths ago

The major factors that got me were the Gambling Commission (not just their cost, but the hoops you had to jump thru to be 'compliant') and the mobile apps. 

As my older customers passed on, the thing that really got to me was the amount of young people who came in, used my facilities and then bet on their phone !!
Report Alias November 8, 2015 1:52 PM GMT
In hindsight, the demise of the independent LBO began in the mid 1980s imo. The SIS ripoff (SIS is 50% owned by Lads, WH and Fred) and all other expenses were much easier absorbed by the big firms and cost them less more often than not. Back in the days of General Betting Duty, an independent had to pay up in advance while the big shots paid months in arrears.Also, there has been in the public mind an increasing belief that somehow a punter's cash was safer with a big company. There's the mistaken idea among many that you'll get more "on" with WH or Lads etc than a small operator. That's a laugh for most of us! In the last 20 years or so, we've seen Sunday and evening opening, again making things tougher for the independent. It's sad, but the days of the one or two shop bookmaker are all but over.

All the best STUDYFORM.
Report STUDYFORM November 8, 2015 5:07 PM GMT
noobile. I'll bet they're friendlier than the corrals too!
This goes on all over the land.

Yep ketverrat, The GC Cry. At least with SIS you get SOMETHING for the money, even if it is a rip-off. But the GC is simply a jobs for mates of MPs quango, which couldn't be more useless if it had called the Useless Commission when it was set up. All the problems it purports to look out for are far worse than before its existence.

Alias, They are over. Interestingly, our friendlier more personal approach has backfired sometimes because some punters, convinced they'll win, put their biggest bets on with the bigger operators on the basis that "I don't want to win that much from you!". Even when I tell them not to worry because it's what the job involves and I'm happy to take the bets and in any case if they get too rich I get rid of (hedge) them anyway.

TheGoddess, I not big mac's greatest fan, mind you who is? Only 28 views of that link (incl me) shows some fall from grace, so my sympathy to him for that. I can't totally agree with quite a bit of what he says though; "the ones that give the best service etc will do best" as Alias confirms, not right. "The loss of FOBTs would mean the loss of all betting shops". I completely disagree with this, I firmly believe the money would just come back over the counter, which is where the FOBT money came from in the 1st place and that shops would save their rental costs and pay 15% on their winnings instead of 15% OTC and 25% on machines.
I do however agree that the awful, corporate, sterile, computer-run world run by people who wouldn't know a real bookmaker if they woke up next to one, is all we'll have left.
It is inevitable. Just a little bit of one corner of Globalisation that I can't see being avoided.

Again thank you all for the good wishes. This thread has been therapy of a sort and it has been fascinating to see that I'm not alone and refreshing to feel that it wasn't all my fault.
Report unbiased November 8, 2015 5:52 PM GMT
"I firmly believe the money would just come back over the counter".
STUDYFORM,I believe if you think that then you must be out of touch with the reality of things,even though you have been running your own shop.Ask the managers of the firm's shops,and they will tell you that machine players are just that.
The kids that play the machines may never have backed a horse,apart from in the National,and they are the "new blood",and there is no evidence that they would graduate to betting on horses.It is too complex for many,too many variables,compared with backing several numbers per spin,and accas on the footie.
   I was a retailer years agonot in this game,and fully understand about ever increasing overheads,development changes that divert the public,and the competition from big firms,although I was able to undercut them mostly,whereas in betting that is more difficult.Like yourself the option was draw stumps and do something else,as running a business, for the small trader, can be a nightmare.That's life,and we have to accept change.
Report lead on November 8, 2015 7:27 PM GMT
Homefortea..don't poison one of the most interesting threads on here in a long time...go and pick a fight on the football forumHappy
Report 11kv November 8, 2015 7:41 PM GMT

Was that Zodiac's acc you were checking ?
Report STUDYFORM November 8, 2015 8:05 PM GMT
unbiased, I've played these things too and like many people got carried away and I found myself playing them and not betting OTC anymore.
There are some new players, it's true. but without the machines the people who play them, who are gamblers after all, would just learn to bet in the same way as the last couple of generations did. That isn't to say that ALL the money would come over the counter, nor is it to say that it would happen overnight. But the expense of the machines and the extra tax currently being paid on them would take care of some of it. For some reason people always look to what can be changed for the future and not to what can be changed back to what already worked.
I know plenty of managers of Big firm's shops. They hate the FOBTs too. As for being 50% of the annual profit, this only applies for 2 reasons and in one circumstance.
The circumstance being that they're played constantly for as many hours as often.
The 2 reasons are; 1, The (profit) margins overall in betting shops are in the region of 10-12% as opposed to the 24% it was 15-20 years ago.
2, The marketing and sleaziness incorporated by the big firms in promoting the use of the things has blinded everyone to any alternative.

I know there wasn't much internet competition 15 years ago, but there weren't any FOBT's either. So on that basis it could be argued that they, in part at least, might have had a detrimental effect and not a positive one. I don't think it has anything to do with numbers and variables, more with how much people have to lose and how long it takes to lose it.

The way accounting seems to work in the industry, for the big firms seems to be as follows:
Irish Lottery, Take £2,000,000 Payout £1,600,000
Virtual Racing, Take £2,000,000 Payout £1,700,000
Horses, Take £20,000,000 Payout £18,000,000
FOBT's, Take £40,000,000 Payout £38,000,000
and so on......

Some head of accounting then says "Oh NO!!! If you get rid of Virtual Racing that's £300,000 we won't make."
Then they say "If we increase the number of Virtual Races by 50% we'll make £450,000".
What they DON'T seem to say is. 'If we get rid of Virtual racing, the money spent on that will be spent on other products so the money will still come in at the same rate but with less expense!'
People have only SO much money in their pockets (or banks) to lose and if they are gamblers they will still lose it. Even without FOBTs.
Yes we have to accept change, but we don't have to embrace it. Nor should it be accepted without question.

well done unbiased, you just got my longest reply Plain

homefortea, you were doing really well 'til then. Don't be silly.
Report homefortea November 8, 2015 8:18 PM GMT

If only you had a clue..

I live in probably the only area of the Country that could make money (and lots) by hosting an Indie Betting Shop..

I am a well known (some would say too well known) personality that used to run a shop taking 50k a week over the counter 15 years ago and even now could match that..

If only I could be bothered I could exceed that and more but the regulations as you state make it a non-runner..

I cannot be bothered to deal with the trash that licence you...
Report STUDYFORM November 8, 2015 8:25 PM GMT
One other thing, unbiased, when I had the roulette removed from the machines, a couple of young lads came in to play it.
I explained there was no roulette and why, so one of them came to the counter and asked. "How do you back Horses then, we don't understand the other games?"

I gave them a brief overview of prices/form/what the stuff in the paper/each-way, means.
They spent the next couple of hours having a marvellous time.

The biggest shame (for all concerned), was probably that they couldn't pick a winner between them.

homefortea, for that sort of money I'd suffer the regulations and go for it.
Report homefortea November 8, 2015 8:31 PM GMT
And have to go to work fella...Laugh

Imagine having to get up at a certain time and travel ten miles and then have to put the papers up and at certain times during the day have to empty the FOBTs and take the money to the bank..

Too much like hard work.....
Report homefortea November 8, 2015 8:36 PM GMT
Funnily enough the Landlord of my local cannot win on the slots (max payout £500) and yet who provides his six machines...

The bookmaker in the street....
Report twizzle22 November 8, 2015 8:40 PM GMT
homefortea..sounds like you wouldn't be out of place in TOWIE..fella this and fella that..muppetLaugh
Report homefortea November 8, 2015 8:50 PM GMT
If the money was there "twizzle" count me in...

Not sure that anyone that knows me would even think that I would move South though..

Where I come from fella is an accepted term and does not come with a covering of mascara which you seem to be an expert on...
Report katverrat November 9, 2015 2:05 PM GMT
I am a well known (some would say too well known) personality that used to run a shop taking 50k a week over the counter 15 years ago and even now could match that..

homefortea - interested to know if you owned this shop. If so, what happened to it, if not, the regulations certainly do not make it a non-runner. Seems to me, either way, you do not fully understand or appreciate the overall demise of the independent in the last few years.

Many of us WOULD be bothered, but you seem to want things handed on a plate.
Report homefortea November 9, 2015 9:18 PM GMT
Why would I want to own a Betting Shop..

Was one of the few that were well paid plus bonus plus extras..

Not every shop in 2000 was owned by fools.Then the internet came on board and I migrated to working online and even got share options...

After that punting was an option and now still have enough to last a good few years although the young fella is going to University next year and may have to look around for something..

It will not be emptying FOBTS and serving the recently arrived though...Laugh
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