Friday, March 30, 2007

Betcha didn't know

I'm not entirely sure about all the sports betting laws in Canada, but what I do notice is different in Scotland is that you can walk into a bookies in the middle of town and bet on any number of sports. In fact, I never realized that "bookie" was short for "bookmaker" until I walked by a business labelled as such in Gourock.

There is one major chain of bookies called Ladbrokes - there's one in Dunoon, and there seems to be one every few blocks in cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh. They do not use the term "bookmakers" at all on their signs, and so when I first arrived in the country and saw these Ladbrokes all over the place I was perplexed by them. From their posters I gathered that they had something to do with money but the language was not that of banks and seemed to be aimed at men only. It wasn't until someone at work mentioned Ladbrokes, some many weeks later, that I discovered what they do and it all finally made sense.

Ladbrokes presents a very clean-cut sort of business - not the grotty, secretive image of a bookie that I've always held. An outlet in central Glasgow even had a fancy brick storefront and stained-glass windows with images of football players, race horses and other sports. Classy.
In Ireland the presence of bookies is even greater. In addition to Ladbrokes there is another chain, Paddy Power. Even the smallest of towns, consisting of a little more than on street with a few shops, would have at least one bookies.

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