Ladbrokes goes upmarket
By Paul
Ladbrokes, the UK's biggest bookmaker, is spending £2 million ($3.09 million) on four “betting superstores” aimed at shaking off the shabby image of the traditional British Betting shops.

The image of the traditional high street betting shop, with dark, smoke-filled cramped interiors and floors littered with betting slips, has been traditionally a haven for mainly working class men. That image is in line for a major makeover, with the new shops being fitted out with glass frontages, coffee shops, stripped pine floors and aluminum designer interiors.

Ladbrokes hopes the new approach will attract a younger, more middle-class demographic, especially women, who have grown up with the National Lottery but were conspicuous by their absence in the old-style betting shops. Now Ladbrokes is branching out into different market segments, as shown by its foray into Internet bookmaking and the launch of its Internet casino.

However, Gamblers’ Anonymous said it was worried that the revamp could create new many more compulsive gamblers.

Ladbrokes is targeting Scotland because one in 10 Scots gamble regularly, twice the UK average.

The company said it was confident that the new betting superstores in Scotland would be as successful as similar stores in London. Turnover at its branch on Northumberland Avenue, near Trafalgar Square, had risen by 50% since the former traditional bookies’ had been converted last year.

“Scotland is now very much on our radar and we are actively seeking sites in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee. Scotland is a very important market for us,” said Ladbrokes spokesman Ciaran O’Brien.

“The cafe is at the front and easily visible through the clear glass frontages and so is a very open and welcoming environment,” he said. “It hasn’t put off the traditional clientele - some of them are even drinking cappuccinos - but it has attracted in a lot of people who might once never have considered going into a betting shop.”

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