A RISK averse owner of a small family-run bookmaker’s shop has announced after 34 years of taking bets she’s about to take huge gamble by taking on the likes of William Hill, Coral and Ladbrookes.

Johan Moncur, who runs Vickers Racing in Middleton St George near Darlington with her son Robert said after three years of preparations and meeting legal requirements, they will launch an online venture next week.

The firm, one of the region’s remaining independent bookmakers, has ploughed an undisclosed amount of its winnings into developing the vickers.com site, partly in the hope of attracting younger customers.

Mrs Moncur said: “I have run the shop for an awful long time and I am not getting the young ones coming in the shop anymore, so I decided to apply for an online licence.

“I don’t take many risks even though I am a bookmaker. This has cost a fortune and we are going to need a lot of new customers.”

As well as featuring opportunities to bet on a spectrum of national and international sports and other events, the site will feature the chance to bet on Northern League teams such as Shildon, Bishop Auckland, Newton Aycliffe and Northallerton.

She said the venture should eventually bring jobs to the area and while she was confident the vickers.com site would be better than those offered by the industry’s leaders due to its ease of use, measures had been put in place to avert situations where people gamble continuously despite negative consequences. Mrs Moncur said: “It has got to be enjoyable.”

She said her site would aim to outperform rivals in customer service by offering faster responses to customers, adding: “We are going to try and be not just a number, but a person at the end of a line. I feel that type of service has gone from the industry. Racing is in our blood. My father and grandfather were both racehorse trainers. This is going to be a real family affair.”

Middleton St George councillor Doris Jones said she was “over the moon” that a village firm was setting its ambitions so highly, but would also display its responsibility by setting controls over how much punters could spend. She said: “This will bring a small betting shop into the 21st century and will help keep another business going in the village.”