SBC Podcast #52 🎧: David Lovell From The Bookmaker DragonBet

In the latest Smart Betting Club Podcast I am joined by ‘poacher turned gamekeeper’ David Lovell, who is one half of the duo that runs the independent bookmaking firm, DragonBet alongside his brother, James.

Immersed in the betting world from an early age thanks to their bookmaking father, John Lovell, both David and James have recently launched to go alongside their on-course bookmaking in Wales.

David provides a refreshing vision for what a bookmaker should be as we discuss the mechanics of running a smaller firm and how they differentiate themselves from the faceless corporate books.

You can listen to Episode 52 now via Apple / Spotify / Google / and all other major podcast directories (search Smart Betting Club)

In-depth Chat with DragonBet

In this episode, David and I discuss:

  • The Lovells’ history in bookmaking
  • The innovations that David’s father John introduced into the industry
  • How the Lovell brothers complement each other and have the right mix of skills to make their business work
  • The inspiration behind DragonBet, its Welsh identity and pricing up markets that no-one else does
  • ‘White Label’ bookmaking – how it works, its benefits and its drawbacks
  • Hosting casino and E-Sport products on the DragonBet website
  • The day-to-day challenges of running a bookmaker operation & the regulatory changes on the horizon
  • Managing sharp punters and how David views them differently from arbers or fast-feeders
  • On-course bookmaking, the benefits of face-to-face interaction with customers and the challenges that rail bookmakers are up against
  • The Lovell brothers’ future plans for DragonBet

David was a fascinating guest and it was so informative to learn about the bookmaking industry and day-to-day operations at an independent firm.

You can learn more about DragonBet by visiting their website or by interacting directly with David and James on their social media accounts (their Twitter handle is @DragonBetWales).

More on Firms Like DragonBet

Many of us have grown tired of dealing with the impersonal and incompetent service at larger bookmakers and here at the SBC we have been doing lots of work to profile firms like DragonBet and what they can offer smart bettors.

An SBC profile of DragonBet (and other likeminded bookmakers) is available on our regularly updated Independent Bookmaker page, providing a comprehensive summary of the different options available with these lesser known firms.

We also invite your comments and experiences on this page as we build up a dossier of helpful information for those of you looking to bet away from the main firms we all know about!


Independent Bookmakers Guide

SBC Guide to Smaller, Independent Bookmakers

Bookmakers who will lay a bet and more options for you as a punter

Account restrictions and limits are more common than ever. Beat a price or profit enough and the well-advertised ‘Oddschecker firms’ will often reduce maximum stakes to pennies or stop you betting altogether.

This can be disheartening, but there are alternatives to the big bookmakers and exchanges in the form of smaller, independent bookmakers, many of whom are run by licensed operators who operate on-course and have now expanded to take online bets too.

All of these organisations are licensed by the Gambling Commission and welcome new customers.

Although you may not get all of the frills that are widely advertised by the big Oddschecker bookmakers, many independents offer concessions and special offers such as sign up offers, extra place races, Best Odds Guaranteed, fallers insurance, daily boosts and cashback on any monthly losses.

Despite all of these positives, please be aware that independent bookmakers are not a silver bullet! Bets of thousands of pounds on a 20/1 shot at 9am are likely to be knocked back and purely betting each-way on second favourites in 8 runner races is likely to be met with resistance! 

You might not also get the best price out there compared to some of the bigger firms either. Instead of 11/4, you might get 5/2 for example. Some firms will be worse than others on this front.

Equally, some of the same issues experienced with better known bookmakers may still take place on everything from account limits to affordability checks and at times restrictions. So again, its not a silver bullet but further options to guide you as to places to bet.

A guide & advice from a professional punter

This was a primary topic of conversation in SBC Podcast #49 with professional punter and SBC Premium tipster, Quentin Franks (the discussion about Independent Bookmakers starts at 21:10):

Quentin frequently uses independent books to get his bets down and so to help our members, the SBC have collected a group of those firms below with their:

  • Key digital information
  • History
  • Lay-to-lose policies
  • Sign-up offers
  • Covered markets
  • Additional information & concessions

Where applicable, we have also included comments from Quentin if he has any experience of betting with the bookmaker.

An interview with the co-owner of one of these firms

To get a fuller understanding of this growing part of the industry, we also interviewed the co-founder of DragonBet, David Lovell. in SBC Podcast #52.

This interview provides smart bettors with an insight into how independent firms such as DragonBet differentiate themselves from the bigger corporate bookmakers alongside an introduction to ‘White Label’ bookmaking.

Explore Our List Of Independent Bookies

Below you can explore a summary of some of the smaller, independent firms that are currently out there and a snapshot of what they offer including Twitter and website links.

AK Bets


Twitter: @AKBets87

About: Founded by former industry employee and professional gambler Anthony Kaminskas, AK Bets started life as a racecourse bookmaker, operating at all of the major Irish venues since 2021. launched in mid-March 2023 (just in time for the Cheltenham Festival!) and Anthony has big plans for his firm. He has discussed his ideas at length on various podcasts (including here) and if you would like to hear more from him, he is also a previous SBC Podcast guest (that episode can be found here).

Markets covered: all sporting events.



Twitter: @Macbet1972

About: Established in 1972, Macbet have been licensed bookmakers ever since. They have racecourse pitches all over the UK and specialise in horse racing betting.

Markets covered: All UK & Irish horse racing.

Ostlers Racing


Twitter: @ostlersracing

About: A racecourse bookmaker operating in the Midlands, North-East and North-West of England, Ostlers Racing have established themselves as a well respected independent firm. Since opening for business in 2010, Ostlers have expanded their operation to take remote bets away from the ring.

Markets covered: all UK & Irish horse racing.



Twitter: @McCartanBet

About: An independent bookmaker with racecourse pitches across the UK & Ireland (and shops in Northern Ireland), McCartanbet have expanded over recent years to offer a wider range of markets. Remote betting is now available with numerous offers and concessions to benefit customers.

Markets covered: all UK & Irish horse racing, football & various other sports.

Star Sports


Twitter: @StarSports_Bet

About: Based in Brighton, Star Sports was established in 1999 under the stewardship of an industry stalwart, Ben Keith. The company has grown, offering bets on course, in shops over the telephone and online, catering for most customers from the very small to the ‘high rollers’.

Markets covered: all sports covered.

Joe Jennings


Twitter: N/A.

About: A family run business established in 1961, Joe Jennings Bookmakers is one of the largest independent firms in the UK, trading from over 100 branches nationwide. A business that constantly changes with the times, Joe Jennings have various remote ways to get bets down.

Markets covered: all sporting events.

Goodwin Racing


Twitter: @Goodwin_Racing

About: Goodwin Racing started as a retail operation over 25 years ago and has developed into one of the biggest telephone betting organisations in the UK. This expansion can also be seen in their range of markets with everything from football and floorball to baseball and basketball included in their online offering.

Markets covered: all sports covered.

Kalooki Sportsbook


Twitter: @KalookiR

About: A ‘bricks and mortar’ bookmaker based in Kent, Kalooki have a unique offering for remote customers. Well regarded by professional punters, their special offers and promotions make them an excellent alternative for those unable to place bets with the larger firms.

Markets covered: all sports covered.



Twitter: @DragonBetWales

About: DragonBet are a family run business with over 50 years of experience from laying bets on course. They focus on Welsh sport (pricing up some local and regional events that no other bookmakers do) alongside offering odds on most sporting events from around the world.

Markets covered: all sports covered.



Twitter: N/A

About: A relatively new bookmaker (opened in 2021), Fafabet offer a comprehensive range of sports for customers to bet on. Odds are sourced from the FSB Tech Platform, meaning that prices are often similar to some of those on the Oddschecker grid. Not technically a true ‘independent’ but one for this list nevertheless!

Markets covered: all sports covered.

Jem Racing


Twitter: @2021_jem

About: Jem Racing are a Dorset based firm who run a remote service alongside their four betting shops. Established in 1986, they pride themselves on providing a personal service for clients and provide numerous promotions and concessions.

Markets covered: all sports covered.



Twitter: @Fitzdares

About: A bookmaker that has been taking bets since 1882, Fitzdares offer markets on sporting events from all over the world. Well regarded by both recreational and professional punters alike, they offer services that are in line with most of the Oddschecker firms whilst maintaining a personal touch with their customer service.

Markets covered: all sports covered.

Geoff Banks


Twitter: @geoffbanksbet

About: An established independent bookmaker, Geoff Banks Bet offer markets on a wide range of markets and have concessions that are similar to those offered by the major ‘Oddschecker’ bookmakers. More information about Geoff Banks’ attitude towards letting customers get bets on is discussed in the SBC Members section and somewhat contradict his public statements about laying money.

Markets covered: all sporting events.

More Available With A SBC Membership

For even more on these independent bookmakers including some of the special offers they provide, concessions and markets to be aware of, we also have now created a dedicated section of the Smart Betting Club members area to this topic.

Subscribe to the SBC today to gain full access