In the UK, betting is regarded much differently than in the US. Not only are betting exchanges much better known,
but bookmakers in general enjoy a much better reputation. Throughout the UK, betting is more like a harmless
pastime of sport enthusiasts than the evil scourge of humanity it is sometimes branded as in the US. Indeed, Americans seem to be making a point of looking down on betting, rather than embracing it, regulating it, and moving on to something else to fuss over.
Perhaps it started with the Puritans. Legend tells us that when they arrived stateside pockets branched off and
went to extremes. Christmas celebrations were banned, birthday parties disavowed, and even laughter was briefly
forbidden. Thankfully, those days have past and now there is Las Vegas, that desert Mecca for the serious gambler.
Yet even in Las Vegas there are not the freedoms that are to be had in the UK. Betting is restricted, and
bookmakers don't operate shops openly. There isn't the equivalent of a Ladbrokes, although slot machines seem to
breed like rabbits. Only online are there some equivalencies, but even then in the UK betting possibilities are
much more developed and woven into the sport. Americans are still getting over tobacconists and breweries
sponsoring sports events - can you picture the fuss if a betting exchange sponsored their Super Bowl?
No, Britons are much more civilised about such things. According to the most recent report from the Gambling
Commission, 68% of UK residents participate in some form of organized gambling. Admittedly, one third of those
only play the National Lottery, but still, it's quite a fair percentage out there having a wager.
Seeing numbers like that stateside would send the Gamblers Anonymous folks into a fit. Addicts left, right and
center, they'd claim, certain the end of the world was nigh at hand. Yet in the UK, betting levels continue to
rise while the number of gamblers classified as addicted remains constant. In the last 10 years the number of
addicted gamblers hasn't gone up, even though the availability of betting opportunities has increased with the
rise of the online betting exchanges. Apparently Britons are able to control themselves when betting.
Thus, laying a fiver on the home team remains a bit of fun for millions, without the fear of lives being ruined
and families out on the streets. As a reward, each year new opportunities to wager are born, further adding to
the thrill of sports betting.
By the way, until some years ago there was an online bookmaker by the name of 'UK Betting', but it was obviously
not too successful and finally bought by their competitor Skybet.
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