Thursday, November 14, 2019
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Biggest Bookies And The Distribution Of The Gambling Industry In The UK

You might look at the gambling and gaming industry and believe there is a whole lot of healthy competition, with countless brands now vying for our pennies. Many businesses however, although they may seem impartial, are in reality component of the exact same group, and you’ll likely never know it. As with many markets, there are actually a few large players and the rest are left to scramble for the remainder of the habit.
It isn’t just the old high street bookies such as William Hill and Betfred that occupy the best spots in the biggest betting company leagues. Many early online only bookmakers have beaten the old land based operators, such as Bet365, and also the world’s biggest and first online exchange, Betfair. Mergers between already huge companies such as Ladbrokes and Coral and Betfair and Paddy Power has generated behemoth bookies. The future of bookmaking in the united kingdom is in the equilibrium as it risks getting a monopoly of a very few massive companies, very much enjoy the energy markets.
Within this report we also look at the development of the united kingdom gambling industry, the dimensions of the profits made together with the progressive change to online gaming and gaming.
Largest CompaniesUK Market ShareUK Market SizeEvolution of all GamblingMergers
Largest Betting Firms Ladbrokes-Coral Group Plc (possessed by GVC Holdings)
Ranking 1
#2.5 Billion
Workers 30000
High Street Shops
Established 2016 (Merger)
William Hill were ousted from top spot after the merger at 2016 of Britain’s second and third largest bookmakers in 2015, completed 2016. The new firm, imaginatively named Ladbrokes-Coral Plc, generates nearly #2.5 billion in revenue each year and workers over 30,000 people and is listed on the FTSE 250.
In 2018 the new group was farther bought by GVC at a deal worth around #4 billion, adding additional power to the brand on an international scale. GVC also own and operate sites like sportingbet (although we would not recommend them to bet with), partypoker and Bwin.
Ladbrokes, Britain’s oldest betting company founded in 1886, and Coral, established at the 1926, have over 200 years experience of being a bookmaker between them. The group own nearly 4000 gambling stores, although were made to market over 300 from the merger, and so are two of the most recognisable brands in the British high street.
Coral, started by Joe Coral an on track bookmaker from the 1920’s, grew rapidly following legalisation of off-course gaming stores in 1961, becoming among the very first bookies to take advantage. Merging with another company in 1971 to become Coral Leisure the group was acquired by Bass in 1981. In 1997 Ladbrokes chose their first effort to purchase Coral from Bass however that was blocked by the UK Monopolies and Mergers Commission in the time. Coral was offered to Morgan Grenfell, a private equity firm in 1999 and merged with Eurobet, among the first online gaming websites, in the exact same calendar year. Gala bingo, founded in 1991 and functioning over 150 halls using an additional internet presence, united with ghostly in 2005 to make the Gala Coral Group.
Ladbrokes was started by two men who acted as a commission agents for horses (trained in Ladbroke Hill). After a move to London from the early 20th century that the firm became a bookmaker for rich clients. Falling on more difficult times after WWII that the company was sold for only #100,000. The same legalisation of betting shops that drove Coral’s increase in 1961 nonetheless reversed the fortunes of Ladbrokes too, who were later floated on the stock market for #1M in 1966. With forays into the hotel (Hilton Group) and home advantage industry the Ladbrokes team grew to next largest UK bookmaker. Prior to the Coral merger Ladbrokes also acquired BETDAQ, the 2nd largest betting exchange, 2013.
The group now generate over a third of the gains from electronic sources and between them have more internet customers than any other company. For more about each brand see our full reviews.
Ladbrokes Review Coral Review
William Hill Plc
Position 2
#1.7 Billion
Workers 16000
High Street Shops
Launched 1934
For a very long time William Hill would be the largest betting business in the UK with over 2300 stores and just under #2 billion in annual revenues. The operator, that currently generates around #200 million in annual earnings and can be listed on the FTSE 250, comes from modest beginnings.
In 1934 the company was founded by Mr William Hill, who following some early failures and prohibited ventures found he could make money by means of a loophole that allowed off-course betting using post or credit. Hill’s entered into the gaming store industry, starting their first five years following the change in law in 1966, due to the founders belief that they were a cancer to society. He relented when he saw how quickly his competitors were getting ahead.
The business changed ownership several times down the years. Bought for #700 million in 1997, the newest was sold two years later for #825 million and listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2002.
The William Hill team have experienced some corporate failures through the years but their competitive strategy, especially online, has allowed them to control the industry landscape. Probably the most well known bookmaker in the world, mainly to the reality Hill’s have spread out the UK over any other bookie, and due to their vast amount they spend on advertising and sponsorship.
William Hill Review William Hill Casino Review
Paddy Power Betfair Plc
Ranking 3
#1.75 Billion
Workers 8000
High Street Shops
600 (UK + I)
Launched 2016 (Merger)
Many mergers are just about money. Coral didn’t really bring anything new to Ladbrokes for instance, however, also the merger between Betfair and Paddy Power in 2016 to make the third largest gambling brand was certainly mutually beneficial to both parties.
Paddy Power, among Ireland’s biggest bookmakers, was founded in 1988 but it was the online age that actually saw the newest come to life via its often controversial advertising approaches. Holding over 600 shops across the UK and Ireland and boasting retail revenues of nearly #1 billion Paddy Power brought the real world places, marketing strategy and money to the merger.
Betfair on the other hand had a very distinct history in the betting industry. Launching as a peer-peer betting exchange rather than a traditional bookie at 2000, Betfair became the largest of its type in virtually no time in any way. Despite better chances on offer in the exchange, the market still remains fairly modest (see later) and so in order to compete Betfair launched a fixed odds sports book in 2011. Betfair would be the smaller party in the merger, making less than #500 million in revenue. Because of this PP shareholders received 52% and Betfair 48% of the new company.
Paddy Power Review Betfair Review
Bet365 Group Ltd
Ranking 4
#2.3 Billion
Employees 3500
High Street Shops
Launched 2000
Bet365 meteoric increase has all come form the electronic industry, and considering that only now is the online gaming market bigger than the high street (excluding national lottery) that is a fairly impressive performance. When they state in their advents which Bet365 is the worlds favourite online gambling company they really are not lying.
Established in 2000 from a tiny temporary building in Stoke by now multi-billionaire Denise Coates, Bet365 currently generates massive online revenues and is the biggest private company in Stoke. They even own the football arena.
Denise began the business by borrowing against her fathers mortar and brick bookmaking company, established in 1974 from Stoke City chairman Peter Coates. Selling the stores to Coral at 2005 Bet365 became an increasingly online only operator where they’ve gained a huge customer base of more than 20+ million people from 200 countries. The brand has the best reputation inside the betting and gaming sector from both punters and insiders and boasts one of their most loyal customer bases of any business.
Often mentioned as a success story of British online business, if you should rule out the offline gaming sector then these men are the greatest. Multi-award winnings and constantly developing new technology and ideas the only way this company is going in the long run is up.
Bet365 Review
Ranking 5
#800 Million
Employees 1000
High Street Shops
Established 1967
The Betfred travel to becoming one of the largest independent gambling companies in the UK is much more heart-warming than others. Launched from one shop in Salford by Fred that an Peter Done in 1967, the team now have a multi-billion turnover as well as #1 billion in revenues annually. According to Warrington the company has never been sold or merged and remains in the very same hands as it began in.
Fred Done is famous specifically for paying our early on Manchester United to win the league twice only for them lose on both events (1998 and 2012). In addition, he lost #1,000,000 in a personal bet with Victor Chandler (owner of BetVictor) betting again on Man United, this time to complete higher than Chelsea in 2005 – which they didn’t. Despite all these misjudgements Fred is also known for inventing the Lucky 15 and other complete cover bets.
The company has a large betting shop operation, and since purchasing around 300 stores that Ladbrokes-Coral have been made to sell now own at the area of 1650 shops in the united kingdom. Famed for being among the best racing bookmakers Betfred improved their vulnerability in this market by purchasing the bag in 2011 for #265. This permits them to enable totepool bets to other operators in addition to supplying bespoke tote bets others do not have. Despite this Betfred’s future looks blended and will probably hinge on how well they grow online in the next several years.
Betfred Review
888 Holdings Plc
Position 6
#600 Million
Workers 1600
High Street Shops
Launched 1997
888 is a thoroughly modern gambling company, there’s absolutely no romantic rear story here. Now part of a rather convoluted corporate structure, 888 Holdings is your gambling arm of parent firm Cassava Enterprises. Initially founded as Virtual Holdings conducting an early casino website, casino-on-net, by two Israeli business guys, the company grew in step with the development of the web.
The newest was renamed 888 in 2002 and despite taking a hard hit when online gaming became illegal in many US territories in 2006 has continued to grow in every area of online gambling. The team operate a sports (888 Sport) and poker site (888 Poker) along with several casino (e.g. 888 casino, 777 casino)) and bingo brands (e.g. 888 bingo, 888 ladies, Wink Bingo) using a distribution of 61 percent casino, 18% poker, 11% game and 9 percent bingo.
888 are a global online specialist which will only grow in the long run. The company was fined nearly #8M from the gaming commission in 2017 for failure to correctly protect vulnerable gamblers in the united kingdom. This will slow down the aggressive growth plan of the business, although only marginally.
888 Sport Review 888 Casino Review
Kindred Group (Unibet, 32Red, Stan James, et al)
Ranking 7
#800 Million
Workers 1400
High Steet Shops
100 (Stan James)
Launched 1997
Kindred is a title that you will likely haven’t heard of, it is in fact the rebranding of the older Unibet Group Plc following the acquisition of more than a dozen other brands.
Fast becoming one of the largest betting businesses in Britain and Europe that the Kindred group includes Stan James, 32Red, and Maria. Unibet is of course the jewel in the crown, the Scandinavian brand has grown to become one of the largest online gaming websites with over 15 million clients.
The future goal of this brand is apparent from their current history of takeovers, paying #19 million to Stan James (which includes a brand new real world existence ) and #175 million for the top rated online casino 32Red.
Unibet Review 32Red Casino Review
Market Share And Gambling Revenue Distribution
UK offline and online gaming market share
The pie charts above show a general representation of the distribution of gambling revenue in the UK. Offline gambling is still the biggest sector as this comprise the federal lottery (28 percent ), compared to high street bookies (27 percent ) and land-based casinos (5 percent ) only online betting is larger (40 percent ). The tendency from offline to online is expected to continue in the future.
Within the internet market casino is the largest (slots 37% and other games 15%), followed by with sports (40%). Exchange gambling (3 percent ), online poker (2 percent ) and online bingo (2%).
The Size Of The UK Gambling Industry
The united kingdom gambling sector currently generates around #15 billion in annual revenues and is growing rapidly at up to 8 percent a year. Of this total over a third (Number 5 billion ) is made from online gaming, using a rough split of 60% casino and 40% sports betting.
The sector as a whole is responsible for contributing approximately #8 billion into the UK treasury every year and directly employs over 100,000 individuals (possibly up to 500,000 if you include indirect workers ).
High Street Bookmakers And Land Bases Casinos
Distribution of high street gambling venuesDespite the continuous change towards online betting since the turn of this millennium there are still around 9000 betting shops in the UK (90% of which are regulated by Coral, William Hill, Ladbrokes and Betfred), 600 bingo halls, and 1800 arcades and 150 land-based casinos (63 possessed by the Rank Group and 41 by Genting). There are in the region of 200,000 gaming machines operated in the united kingdom also, of which around 40,000 will be the contentious fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
The National Lottery (along with other lottery) earnings are also included in the general gambling revenue figure. This make up to #3.5 billion of the total, with at the region of #250 million moving back to great causes.
High street bookmaking is liable for a similar figure, #3.5 billion annually, claiming over 95% of their non-remote gambling earnings in the united kingdom. Pool betting (like the Tote) makes up 4% with other resources, such as on-track bookies, making up only 1%.
Land-based casinos create #1 billion in yearly profits. Just under half of this stems from roulette (44%), per quarter from blackjack (25 percent ), a fifth (20%) kind slots and other digital games and the rest from various other tables and games.
Online Betting And Casino
Sports betting distribution in the UKApproximately 57 percent of internet gambling revenues comes from remote casinos. Of this three quarters derives from slots, together with the rest coming from table and other games (an opposite trend to land based casinos). Poker, which can be classified under casino, creates less than 2 percent of their entire revenue.
Sports gambling is the second biggest sector, producing up to 37% of the general earnings. Of this around 54% comes from soccer gambling, around 32 percent from horse racing and the remainder from different sources (of that tennis constitutes almost half).
Other sources of revenue include exchange betting (~3%), on line bingo (~3%) and pool gambling (~0.5%).
In 2014 the online sector made up 29% of the total market share, by 2016 this had grown to 32%. By 2020 the business could approach 50 percent of annual earnings generated from gaming related activities in the united kingdom.
Evolution Of High Street To Online Betting
Aside from the peculiar independent bookie and a number of the stalls you visit at racecourses, all bookmakers now provide online betting. Of course, it did not used to be this way, and prior to the online age breaking into the industry was easier said than done. For a complete history of gaming see our dedicated page.
Prior to 1960 from the UK it was illegal to take bets away from horse and greyhound tracks. Betting was heavily regulated by the government and although prohibited operators did exist, overall you would find it really hard to put a wager away from the track.
Bookies did still take bets off-course through loop-holes from the law that allowed bets to be obtained by telephone or through postal order. This is the way William Hill started out. In the event that you were rich enough needless to say there were always choices open to you, Ladbrokes for example began as a gentleman’s bookmaker for high profile customers. In the event that you were however a normal working-class lad or lass nevertheless, there were very few choices open to you.
Even then most gambling at the time was for dog and horse racing only. Football betting was largely outlawed, except for non stakes pool betting syndicate games, such as the football pools (which still exists today).
Basically before 1960 betting was not very easy as you needed to attend some race-track to do it (or do it in a rear street gambling den). That is unless you were rich once the law did not actually apply to you personally and you could bet through discreet merchants.
1960 Betting And Gambling Act And Betting Shops
Gambling shopIn 1960 the authorities finally embraced the new age. Normal people had more disposable income in their pockets and they wanted more freedom with how to invest their cash. The gambling act for the first time allowed off-course gambling and from the following year, May 1961, a whole plethora of new betting shops opened throughout the length of the country at a rate of 100 a week.
Betting was largely restricted to horse racing, with rules in place like the’trebles principle’ on soccer. This meant all footy bets needed to be accumulators with 3 or more choices differently you couldn’t bet. The only sports you could place singles was rushing.
Nevertheless this new industry was adopted by the people of Britain, sowing the seed that eventually resulted in the UK getting the largest gambling state (per head) in the world.
Among the first people to open one of these new gaming stores was Joel Coral and 10,000 shops have been reported to have started over the initial 6 months. Ironically the UK’s now biggest high street bookie, William Hill, initially refused to open betting shops, stating they were a cancer on society. He reneged at 1966.
1970s And 1980s
The bookmaker sector grew exponentially over the years after legalisation of high street gambling. By the 1970’s there have been 15,000 stores in the United Kingdom.
This is the time when many of the biggest names we know now made and solidified their standing. Britain’s oldest bookmakers, Ladbrokes, William Hill and Coral were making so much they also began to spend money on other leisure sectors.
Regardless of the enormous success of high street bookies in the past 3 decades the sector had a restricted clientele. The huge majority of punters utilizing gaming stores were working class men and the reputation of shops as being dark dens filled with smoke and filthy language did not help to change this.
Bookies sought to make a bigger customer base by introducing new features, such as live sport in shops and fresh soccer coupons to encourage more diverse clients and bets. The removal of this’trebles rule’ on football in 1990’s moved a great way towards supporting the bookies branch out, with punters now able to back singles on a range of sports.
A progressively superior image, wider array of bets and markets, even more televised sports (especially Premier League soccer ) and also an ever-increasing disposable earnings, saw the fortunes of bookmakers rise again.
From the mid-1990’s the sector seemed locked down with five massive companies dominating the landscape, along with a couple of independents across the nation. Many believed gambling and gaming would be like this forever. That was before the internet came along.
New Millennium And The Internet Online betting 2As that the 1990’s drew to a close a new threat started to emerge to the older established order, online gambling. This was more dangerous to the established high street bookies than you might imagine.
High street bookmaking was regulated by various betting and gaming functions and more importantly stakes were taxed (9p/#1 staked). Online gambling however was a tiny bit like the wild west, you can essentially set up in which you desired, launch a website and start taking bets from customers — tax free.
Although preventing tax on gaming bets and winnings was at the time illegal it was nearly impossible to police. New firms along with the old high street bookies started to set up new sites, largely based off coast in Gibraltar or Malta, to take advantage of this tax free commerce (many are still located there today).
From the late 1990’s and early 2000’s the industry share online was still very low and although the new unregulated online commerce was a concern that it was not widespread enough to cause changes yet. The bookies were making enough from the large street though taxation averting new manufacturers were taking a percentage of their profits.
Victor Chandler And Tax
In 1999 Victor Chandler (now BetVictor) transferred his bookmaking business off shore to Gibraltar in protest in the gambling tax prices in the united kingdom, selling his 41 shops to Coral. This enabled Victor to supply gaming chances to world-wide customers, especially from Asia, without paying UK tax. Additionally, it enabled UK punters to bet without paying the 9p/# stake tax.
It’s believed it was this decision that directed the then UK chancellor, Gordon Brown, to remove the gambling tax in 2001. Saying that though he removed the tax paid directly by the punter new taxes were imposed on the bookies profits earned in the united kingdom and by this stage the ship had mostly sailed and many conventional bookies were conducting their online operation from overseas.
2005 Gambling Act
gambling act 2005
Eventually the authorities realised that the status quo couldn’t continue indefinitely. This {wasn’t|was not

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