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I need help – contemplating selling my soul

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  • #4672
    • Total Posts 170

    Okay as you can see from the title – I am considering some drastic action but need some serious advice.

    The place where I holiday every year is a sleepy beach town that attracts 1 million visitors each Summer – yet it has no bookmakers. Thre rival town has 5 (about 5 miles away).

    When down there last time I was joking with the in-laws about setting one up and we even jokingly picked out the shop in the middle of the village which has the perfect location. Just found out the place is up for sale (its currently a chippy) and on the market for £300,000 with a 3 bed apartment situated above.

    I am sorely tempted to sell up where I am and raise some funds to get down there. I’m 26 years old with no kids so if I am going to take a big risk – this coule be the time to do it!! The problem I have, is though I love racing -and all sport for that matter – I have no idea how to run a bookmakers. I could be wrong but I would imagine running a shop owned by one of the big firms is a piece of pee as all the information is provided for you (I know that will be corrected) but an independent small shop – I would not know where to start.

    This is where I need help.

    Does anyone know where I can find information out on this (website or book)?!? Is there a central point for independent bookmakers that share early prices? Or that price up races?? Or that can provide information and tips on how to set up a shop etc etc Also a site that can help me work out the standard bookmakers info. (running a book etc)

    I am literally a virgin bookie probably just day dreaming whilst stuck in my 9-5 and just thought hey, this could be the chance to live in a beautiful part of the country and be my own boss, holiday in the winters and work my backside off in the Summers…

    Any advice or help appreciated!!!

    • Total Posts 1736


    If I lived next door, I could probably give you all the help you need as I’m an ex bookie(shops mainly, also racetrack and dogs).

    Just one piece of sound advice:

    I presume you know the basics of the racing game, so what you need is some experience of betting offices on the business side of the counter. Try and get a Saturday or Sunday job and see how the business works. Ask questions and listen to those with experience.

    If you rush into starting a betting office business, you might succeed despite your lack of knowledge, but I would urge you to get the experience first. If you try to buy this experience by hiring someone, you are going to have to trust them with your life.

    • Total Posts 1593

    A few quick points:

    1) Running a high street bookie is indeed as easy as picking your nose (nowadays at least).

    2) You’ll probably already be aware of this, but you’re going to have to allow for more than just the £300,000 initial outay not just in terms of refurbs, but because all liabilities are your own. Also, come September the 1st the gambling commission are going to make things a lot more difficult for bookmakers with a wad of new legislation. I won’t go into it (as I’m not aware of every individual nook and cranny the act covers), but basically bookies are getting allowed to do a lot more at the cost of hugely increased accountability.

    3) You’ll struggle to get winters off, as from September 1st there will also be year-round evening meetings.

    I’d also go along with Artemis’ suggestion of experience, as it will also let you see what kind of business an office does and where they make their profits.

    • Total Posts 2391

    Aftershock…an interesting dilemma.

    It may be worth contacting the National Association of Bookmakers who may be able to help.

    On a more general level it’s widely acknowledged the success or otherwise of most business ventures is reflected in the quaility of the inital Market Research and Business Plan, (Cash Flow, Profit & Loss Projections etc).

    If I were you, the the question I would ask is: Why is there no bookies there already? In my view the answer to this question, should begin to answer your dilemma.


    • Total Posts 259

    I would definitely recommend working part-time in a bookmakers first. It seems like you’re quite eager to buy this shop, etc, but I wouldn’t rush into it until you have some experience – even if it means you need to move to a slightly lesser location when you’re ready.

    Working in a bookmakers is hardly a complex job, but you will learn about day to day procedures that you’ve probably never thought of: what to do if a Lucky 15 is building to a large payout (arb. the final bet, obviously – but you will need to think of a ‘warning’ system because you won’t keep track of all those bets), what to do in case of a dispute with the customer (think of every circumstance possible!), how to deal with a hostile customer who doesn’t want to leave at closing time because he’s obsessed with getting his money back on the FOBTs (will you have FOBTs?), etc. Have you thought about how you will enter the bets, calculate the payouts, and work out your weekly P/L – presumably it will all be computerized, but I’m not sure where you get the software from (or whether its a bespoke package that you need to pay a company to make). You will need lots of money to cover your outgoings until you’re setup (wages, equipment, having a losing week, etc).

    I hope the following gives you some hope: I once worked for a small(ish) bookmaker chain and the bosses knew little about the sport. They’d bought the premises, installed the televisions, etc, and then paid a company to provide ‘standard’ prices for the races and send the information to the screens and the networked computer tills – you can get it all provided for you. I could talk to the bosses and I got the idea that they didn’t follow horseracing at all and couldn’t even understand Rules 4, etc – the computer sorted all of that out.

    • Total Posts 4491

    Pompete raises the most significant point for me. If there was a definite market there to be exploited, why are Ladbrokes not there, or Hills, or Corals, or Dones?

    • Total Posts 170

    Thanks for the response – a good read and some very good advice offered – so thanks for that.

    In regards to the most concerning aspect – i.e. why is there not a bookies there now? I agree. A concern. However, I was down there for Royal Ascot and was chatting in a few of the bars. Apparently there was a bookie there 10 years ago but it closed up shop. (Though I would also like to say at this point, I met at least five people on my travels who wanted to get a bet on and saw me stationed in front of the telly with my racing post and asked me where the local bookies was – not exactly a scientific poll – but it did start me thinking again)

    Of course, this could mean that it just does not work down there as you would only live off the trade of the tourists and the village population (approx 5K-7K I would say). But I would put a strong case forward that gambling has changed a lot in the past 10 years. Its profile has raised and also the varience of sports you can gamble on has increased – I.e. the amount of people who wager on footbal coupons etc. I am not sure what perception you feel that gamblers have in the general public – but I think having a flutter is a lot more socially acceptable now then it was a decade ago.

    And when better to do so, when on holiday and a few quid in your pocket…

    In regards to seasonal opening. To make the business work I would be there pretty much all year around for the first few years (except a couple of cold weeks in Jan where I would put a notice up stating a seasonal holday – apparently the area is dead in January).

    I must admit – I would naturally need a loan for the place if I was to set up. I am on the housing ladder and have approx 70,000 in equity in my house. But it is very hard to set up a business plan and project figures when I have no guarentees there is a need for the business there. It would just be pure speculation on my part. I just need to work out how I put this plan together when I am starting from scratch – and to work out how much i would need to make it work.

    I have family who would love to invest – moreso just for the free hlidays they could have at my house. I also think if it went tits up – the place could be converted in to 2 houses and sold off. (currently a cafateria downstairs that seats 20).

    Definitely food for thought. May just look for a Sat job at the local Coral.

    Any other advice welcome.

    • Total Posts 2065

    You would definitely want FOBTs if you do setup shop. They make more profit in the shop I work in than the profits from racing revenue and this is the case for more shops.

    I believe most independents "borrow" somebody elses prices to make their books, the one near me uses Stan James prices and that would probably be your best option for making a book.

    Experience would definitely be useful. If your not in a position to get that yourself you will need to find a cashier for the shop who does that experience who can teach you as he/she goes along.

    What happens in the winter months when the tourists are all sitting in front of their warm fires at home? Do you get the winter months off or would their be other uses for the shop if you are shutting it?

    And hw do people who live in the town bet at the moment? Do they not bother or do they use other methods ie the internet?

    • Total Posts 170

    The "borrowing" of somebody elses prices would definitely be the way forward to start with.

    I would imagine that I would have FOBT’s though I would need to investigate further the costs of them.

    Well the winter months – it does still attarct a vast number of visitors from March to November. The other 3 months of the year? Well I guess the first year or two I would try and stay open to see if I can keep the village clientale happy. if it really was not making money during this time – or just not worthwhile – I guess I would shut up shop for 4-8 weeks and get my hands dirty back home on a building site or something along those lines to keep the cash flow happening. (unless I was rich enough to count my money during this time on a beach abroad!!!).

    How do people who live there at the moment bet? I am not entirely sure the volume of people who bet. However I was chatting to a lady in a bar and she mentioned that the local newsagents rings in bets for anyone who wants to have a bet and the traditional Grand National day stampede – they are queuing out the door. Not that this means much as I know every bookies in the country is out the door on grand National day

    sporting sam
    • Total Posts 1436

    Is the chippy being sold as a going concern?
    Is the asking price based on the turnover/profit.
    Is it all freehold?
    Sorry if I havent read your initial post properly and missed this.
    I would say your start up prices overheads would be huge.
    Dont forget that to run your shop to the hours bookies keep, you will need two maybe three staff. Unless you want to work all day, every day yourself.
    You need to talk to local Commercial agents to locate the right premises/location at the right price, remember convert this place and you`ll be throwing the current staff out of work!!

    Alternatively you could open a betfair account and trade as a bookie with no large overheads. :D
    Barry Dennis surely is the Man to advise you here.
    The very best of British to you whatever you decide to do.

    • Total Posts 170

    Yep – all of the chippy equipment is being sold with the place. So I would be the owner of a chip shop…not quite the career path I want even if it does mean I get to live there. :D

    I would guess the current chippy turnover is accountable in the process. Their turnover is £38,000 a year – at 65% gross profit (nice eh!?) but they only open 5 till 9 in season and the agents are pushing it as a massive opportunity to raise the funds. But still, I don’t fancy running a chippy and there is already another one in the village so the revenue would never go through the roof.

    The price of the gaff was 370,000 but the sale has fallen through twice due to finance issues – that or someone has seen the chippy accounts and they don’t add up – and has been dropped to 299,000 with the 3 bed apartment included.

    It is a freehold.

    Would the set up costs be huge? Renovating the place would cost a bit but my dads a builder and refurbed my whole house so I am sure he would be involved. Just the set up costs for the business to worry about. Though they would be relatively expensive. As far as staff goes – to be honest, it would be me, my girlfriend and the A.N.OTHER who would ideally have some experience of working within a bookmakers.

    The plan would be a lot of hours for the first year or two – for me and her (if she doesn’t drive me insane) and then get a couple more members of staff if the business is doing okay and for me to be less hands on.

    I guess when it such a tourist trap you bust you privates off for 7-8 months and then relax a lot more in the winter.

    The chippy only has 2 part-time members of staff – they will get over it…!

    Of course, a betfair bookie would be one way to operate in theory. But then I am dealing with a lot of shrew punters.

    Probably just dreaming at the moment as far as this property goes – but really thinking of making a go of it soon. Next year would have been perfect though – with the Euro Championships etc – dragging more people into the shop.

    • Total Posts 319

    Why not start the first Chippy/Bookie combo…..ChipBet?
    Lunchtime Specials;
    The L15 meal..
    bag o’ chips, 1 sausage,can o’ coke and a 50p L15 @ £10.
    The Family placepot Bucket……
    6 pcs of chicken, chips, 2L bottle o’ pop, and 64x10p lines on the ppot@ £15
    Seriously mate best of luck with your venture, hope it works out for you(except don’t have FOBTs, they’re the work of the Divil). :twisted:

    • Total Posts 2208


    You’ll need liquidity i.e. A big pot of money in addition to your 300,000… Money a bank is unlikely to sanction without a well put together business plan and a whole host of guarantees and legal charges over your property etc. So if it doesn;t work out you’ll be up that creek without a paddle.

    But then its all a gamble and best of luck to you. I would advise getting some professional help in with the set-up as it is a big venture.. Especially sourcing cod!!!

    • Total Posts 302

    Probably just dreaming at the moment as far as this property goes – but really thinking of making a go of it soon

    Good old Lawrence of Arabia once wrote

    "Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that all was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, and make it possible."

    – the seven pillars of wisdom.

    • Total Posts 2391

    Why not start the first Chippy/Bookie combo

    You Cod offer 1/4 the odds a Plaice in non-handicaps.

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