What is ‘LBO’?
LBO stands for Licensed Betting Office and is an establishment where people can place bets on various kinds of events. LBOs may also contain gambling machines where people can play games like roulette and blackjack.
In 1960, the Betting and Gaming Act came into force, making an act which had previously been illegal now completely legal. While years of casual betting went by (e.g. in pubs etc.), this changed when another act, the Gambling Act 2005, came into play. This Act, which is enforced by the Gambling Commission, lists a number of venues where bets can be placed, all of which must be LBOs.
For a venue to become an LBO, it must meet a number of different criteria. One of the most notable of these criteria is that the shop must clearly indicate that it is a betting shop. This point has given rise to controversy. On the one hand, there is the argument that people should know that a shop is a gambling establishment so as they can avoid going inside unknowingly. However, others argue that this stipulation actually helps the betting shops to make money, as they are essentially allowed to advertise.
In reference to the point above, LBOs today are very different than they were 15 or 20 years ago. In those days, for example, it was illegal for a betting shop to advertise in its windows, but today betting shop windows are packed full of promotional deals designed to lure in customers. These shops also create a much more comfortable environment for customers, often offering both food and drink.
Recent times have also seen a great deal of controversy surrounding gambling machines, such as video poker machines. The Gambling Commission has confirmed that such machines must only be present in LBOs, as these shops offer a variety of other bets as well.
Simply put, the Gambling Commission is trying to ensure that gambling machines are not seen as just a fun activity.