Biggest Bookies And The Distribution Of The Gambling Industry In The UK

You may examine the betting and gaming industry and think there’s a whole lot of healthy rivalry, with countless brands now vying for our pennies. Many businesses however, though they may seem independent, are in reality part of the same group, and you’ll likely never know it. Like many markets, there are in fact a couple of large players and the rest are left to scramble for the remainder of the custom.
It is not just the old high street bookies such as William Hill and Betfred that occupy the best places from the largest gaming business leagues. Many ancient online only bookmakers have already beaten the old land based operators, such as Bet365, and the world’s largest and first online exchange, Betfair. Mergers between already huge companies like Ladbrokes and Coral and Betfair and Paddy Power has generated behemoth bookies. The near future of bookmaking in the UK is in the equilibrium as it risks getting a monopoly of a very few massive businesses, very much like the energy markets.
In this report we also examine the progression of the UK gaming industry, the dimensions of the profits made along with the progressive change to online betting and gaming.
Largest CompaniesUK Market ShareUK Market SizeEvolution of GamblingMergers
Largest Betting Firms Ladbrokes-Coral Group Plc (possessed by GVC Holdings)
Position 1
#2.5 Billion
Employees 30000
High Street Shops
Launched 2016 (Merger)
William Hill were ousted from top spot following the merger in 2016 of Britain’s second and third biggest bookmakers in 2015, finished 2016. The new firm, imaginatively named Ladbrokes-Coral Plc, generates almost #2.5 billion in revenue each year and employees over 30,000 people and is listed on the FTSE 250.
In 2018 the new group was further bought by GVC in a deal worth roughly #4 billion, including further power to the newest on an global scale. GVC also own and operate websites such as sportingbet (although we wouldn’t recommend them to wager with), partypoker and Bwin.
Ladbrokes, Britain’s oldest gambling company founded in 1886, and Coral, based in the 1926, have over 200 years experience of being a bookmaker involving them. The group own nearly 4000 betting shops, although were made to sell over 300 in the merger, and are two of the most recognisable brands in the high street.
Coral, began by Joe Coral an online bookmaker from the 1920′s, grew rapidly following legalisation of off-course betting shops in 1961, becoming among the first bookies to make the most. Merging with another firm in 1971 to become Coral Leisure the group was obtained by Bass in 1981. In 1997 Ladbrokes chose their very first effort to purchase Coral from Bass however that was blocked by the UK Monopolies and Mergers Commission in the moment. Coral was sold to Morgan Grenfell, a private equity firm in 1999 and also merged with Eurobet, among the first online betting sites, in precisely the same year. Gala bingo, founded in 1991 and functioning over 150 halls with an additional online presence, united with ghostly in 2005 to make the Gala Coral Group.
Ladbrokes was started by two men who acted as a commission representatives for horses (trained in Ladbroke Hill). Following a move to London in the early 20th century the company became a bookmaker for wealthy clients. Falling on more difficult times following WWII the business was sold for just #100,000. The identical legalisation of betting shops that drove Coral’s increase in 1961 nonetheless reversed the fortunes of Ladbrokes also, who were later floated on the stock exchange for #1M in 1966. With forays into the hotel (Hilton Group) and residence advantage sector the Ladbrokes team grew to second biggest UK bookmaker. Prior to their Coral merger Ladbrokes also obtained BETDAQ, the 2nd largest betting exchange, 2013.
The team now generate over a third of their gains from digital sources and between them have more internet customers than any other business. 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 company in the UK with over 2300 stores and only under #2 billion in yearly revenues. The operator, which currently generates up to #200 million in annual earnings and is listed on the FTSE 250, comes from modest beginnings.
In 1934 the company was founded by Mr William Hill, who after some early failures and prohibited enterprises found he could make money by means of a loophole that allowed off-course betting using post or credit. Hill’s entered late into the betting shop business, starting their first five years after the change in law in 1966, due to the creators belief that they were a cancer . He relented when he saw how quickly his competitors were getting forward.
The company changed ownership many times down the years. Bought for #700 million in 1997, the newest has been again sold two decades after for #825 million and recorded on the London Stock Exchange in 2002.
The William Hill team have had some corporate failures over the years but their aggressive strategy, particularly online, has enabled them to dominate the industry landscape. Probably the most well-known bookmaker in the world, mainly to the fact Hill’s have spread outside the UK more than any other bookie, and also due to their vast amount they spend on sponsorship and advertising.
William Hill Review William Hill Casino Review
Paddy Power Betfair Plc
Ranking 3
#1.75 Billion
Workers 8000
High Street Shops
600 (UK + I)
Established 2016 (Merger)
Many mergers are merely about money. Coral did not really bring anything new to Ladbrokes for example, however, also the merger between Betfair and Paddy Power in 2016 to create the third largest betting brand was certainly mutually beneficial to both parties.
Paddy Power, among Ireland’s largest bookmakers, was set in 1988 but it was the online age that actually saw the brand come to life through its often controversial advertising strategies. Holding over 600 stores across the united kingdom and Ireland and boasting retail revenues of nearly #1 billion Paddy Power attracted the real world locations, advertising strategy and money to the merger.
Betfair on the other hand had a very distinct history in the gambling industry. Launching as a peer-peer betting exchange as opposed to a traditional bookie in 2000, Betfair became the largest of its type in no time in any way. Despite better chances on offer in the market, the market still remains fairly modest (see later) and so to be able to compete Betfair launched a fixed odds sports book in 2011. Betfair are the smaller party in the merger, generating less than 500 million in revenue. Because of this PP shareholders received 52% and Betfair 48 percent of the new firm.
Paddy Power Review Betfair Review
Bet365 Group Ltd
Ranking 4
#2.3 Billion
Employees 3500
High Street Shops
Launched 2000
Bet365 meteoric increase has come form the electronic industry, and believing that just today is the internet gambling market bigger than the high road (excluding national lottery) which is a pretty impressive performance. When they state in their advents which Bet365 is the worlds favorite online betting company they really are not lying.
Launched in 2000 from a tiny temporary building in Stoke by today multi-billionaire Denise Coates, Bet365 now produces enormous online earnings and is the biggest private employer in Stoke. They even own the football arena.
Denise started the business by borrowing from her fathers mortar and brick bookmaking company, established in 1974 by Stoke City chairman Peter Coates. Selling off the shops to Coral at 2005 Bet365 became an internet only operator where they’ve gained a huge customer base of over 20+ million people from 200 nations. The manufacturer has the best reputation within the betting and gaming industry from the punters and insiders and boasts among their most loyal customer bases of any business enterprise.
Often mentioned as a success story of British internet business, if you should rule out the offline gaming sector then these guys would be the greatest. Multi-award winnings and continuously developing new technology and ideas that the only way that this organization is moving in the long run is up.
Bet365 Review
Position 5
#800 Million
Employees 1000
High Street Shops
Launched 1967
The Betfred journey to getting one of the largest independent gambling companies in the UK is more heart-warming than most others. Launched from one store in Salford by Fred that an Peter Done in 1967, the group 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 started in.
Fred Done is known in particular for paying our early on Manchester United to win the league double only for them lose on both occasions (1998 and 2012). He also dropped #1,000,000 in a private bet with Victor Chandler (proprietor of BetVictor) gambling again on Man United, this opportunity to finish higher than Chelsea in 2005 – they did not. Despite all these misjudgements Fred is also famous for inventing the Lucky 15 along with other complete cover stakes.
The business has a large gaming store performance, and since buying around 300 shops that Ladbrokes-Coral were made to sell now own at the area of 1650 stores in the united kingdom. Famed for being one of the best racing bookmakers Betfred improved their exposure in this market by purchasing the bag at 2011 for #265. This permits them to licence totepool bets to other operators as well as providing bespoke tote bets others don’t have. Despite this Betfred’s future seems mixed and will likely hinge on how well they develop on the internet in the next several years.
Betfred Review
888 Holdings Plc
Position 6
#600 Million
Workers 1600
High Street Shops
Established 1997
888 is a thoroughly modern gambling company, there is no romantic rear story here. Now part of a somewhat convoluted corporate structure, 888 Holdings is the gaming arm of parent company Cassava Enterprises. Originally founded as Virtual Holdings running an early casino website, casino-on-net, by two Israeli company men, the business grew in step with the rise of the internet.
The brand was renamed 888 at 2002 and despite having a hard hit when online gaming became illegal in many US lands in 2006 has continued to grow in every area of online gambling. The group operate a sport (888 Sport) and poker website (888 Poker) along with several casino (e.g. 888 casino, 777 casino)) and bingo brands (e.g. 888 bingo, 888 girls, Wink Bingo) using a distribution of 61% casino, 18% poker, 11% game and 9% bingo.
888 really are a global online specialist which will only grow in the future. The company was fined almost #8M from the gaming commission in 2017 for failure to properly shield vulnerable gamblers in the united kingdom. This may slow down the aggressive growth plan of the company, although only slightly.
888 Sport Review 888 Casino Review
Kindred Group (Unibet, 32Red, Stan James, et al)
Ranking 7
#800 Million
Employees 1400
Top Steet Shops
100 (Stan James)
Launched 1997
Kindred is a name that you may likely not have heard of, it’s in reality the rebranding of this old Unibet Group Plc following the purchase of more than a dozen other manufacturers.
Quickly becoming one of the biggest betting businesses in Britain and Europe the Kindred group comprises Stan James, 32Red, and Maria. Unibet is of course the jewel in the crown, the Scandinavian brand has grown to become among the largest online betting sites with over 15 million customers.
The future intention of this brand is apparent from their recent history of takeovers, paying #19 million to Stan James (which includes a brand new real world existence ) and #175 million to the top rated online casino 32Red.
Unibet Review 32Red Casino Review
Market Share And Gambling Revenue Distribution
UK online and offline gambling market share
The pie charts above show an overall representation of the distribution of gaming revenue in the united kingdom. Offline gambling is still the largest sector as this comprise the national lottery (28%), in contrast to high street bookies (27%) and land-based casinos (5%) only online betting is larger (40 percent ). The tendency in offline to online is predicted to continue in the future.
Within the internet marketplace casino is the biggest (slots 37% and other games 15 percent ), followed by with sports (40%). Exchange gambling (3 percent ), online poker (2%) and online bingo (2%).
The Size Of The UK Gambling Industry
The UK gambling sector currently generates roughly #15 billion in annual revenues and is increasing quickly at up to 8 percent per year. Of this total over a third (Number 5 billion ) is created from online gaming, using a demanding split of 60% casino and 40% sports betting.
The industry as a whole is responsible for contributing around #8 billion into the UK treasury each year and directly employs over 100,000 people (possibly up to 500,000 if you include indirect employees).
High Street Bookmakers And Land Bases Casinos
Supply of high street gambling venuesDespite the continuous change towards online gambling because the turn of this millennium there are still about 9000 betting shops in the UK (90% of which are controlled 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 currently in the region of 200,000 gambling machines operated in the united kingdom too, of which around 40,000 are the contentious fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
The National Lottery (and other lottery) earnings are also included in the general gambling earnings figure. This make up to #3.5 billion of this total, with at the region of #250 million moving back to great causes.
High street bookmaking is liable for a similar amount, #3.5 billion annually, claiming over 95 percent of their non-remote gambling revenue in the united kingdom. Pool gambling (such as the Tote) constitutes 4% with different resources, such as on-track bookies, making up just 1%.
Land-based casinos generate #1 billion in yearly profits. Just under half of this comes from roulette (44%), per quarter from blackjack (25 percent ), a fifth (20 percent ) kind slots and other digital games and the rest from various other games and tables.
Online Betting And Casino
Sports betting supply in the UKApproximately 57% of online gambling revenues comes from distant casinos. Of this three quarters derives from slots, together with the remainder coming from table along with other games (an opposite trend to land based casinos). Poker, that is classified under casino, creates less than 2% of the total earnings.
Sports gambling is the second most significant sector, producing up to 37 percent of the general earnings. Of this around 54 percent comes from soccer gambling, around 32 percent from horse racing and the remainder from different sources (of which tennis makes up almost half).
Other sources of revenue include exchange gambling (~3%), on line bingo (~3%) and swimming gambling (~0.5%).
In 2014 the online sector made up 29% of the entire market share, by 2016 this had risen to 32 percent. By 2020 the industry could approach 50% of annual revenues generated from gaming related actions in the united kingdom.
Evolution Of High Street To Online Betting
Apart from the peculiar independent bookie and some of the stalls you visit at racecourses, all bookmakers today provide online betting. Obviously, it didn’t used to be this way, and prior to the online age breaking into the sector was easier said than done. For a complete history of gambling 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 hard to place a wager away from the track.
Bookies did take bets off-course through loop-holes from the law that enabled bets to be obtained by phone or through postal order. This is the way William Hill started out. If you were wealthy enough needless to say there were always options open for you, Ladbrokes for example started out as a gentleman’s bookmaker for high profile customers. If you were nevertheless a typical working-class lad or lass nevertheless, there were quite a few choices open for you.
Even then most betting at the time was for dog and horse racing only. Football betting was mostly outlawed, except for low stakes pool gambling syndicate games, like the soccer pools (which still exists now ).
Fundamentally before 1960 betting was not very simple as you needed to go to a race-track to do it (or do it in a back street gambling den). That is unless you’re rich when the law didn’t actually apply to you and you may bet through discreet merchants.
1960 Betting And Gambling Act And Betting Shops
Betting shopIn 1960 the authorities finally embraced the new era. Normal folks had more disposable income in their pockets and they wanted more freedom with how to spend their money. The betting action for the first time allowed off-course gaming and by the following year, May 1961, a whole plethora of new betting shops opened throughout the duration of the country at a rate of 100 a week.
Betting was still largely restricted to horse racing, together with principles in place such as the’trebles rule’ on football. This meant all footy bets needed to be accumulators with at least 3 or more selections otherwise you couldn’t bet. The only sports you could place singles was rushing.
Nevertheless this new sector was adopted by the people of Britain, sowing the seed which eventually led to the UK becoming the largest gaming nation (per head) on earth.
One of the first people to open these new betting shops was Joel Coral and 10,000 stores have been reported to have started over the initial 6 months. Paradoxically the UK’s now biggest high street bookie, William Hill, originally refused to open betting shops, saying they were a cancer on society. He reneged in 1966.
1970s And 1980s
The bookmaker sector grew exponentially over the years following legalisation of high street gambling. By the 1970′s there were 15,000 shops in the United Kingdom.
This is the time when a lot of the largest names we know today made and solidified their standing. Britain’s oldest bookmakers, Ladbrokes, William Hill and Coral were making so much they even began to spend money on other leisure businesses.
Regardless of the enormous achievement of high street bookies in the past 3 decades the sector had a limited clientele. The huge majority of punters using gaming stores were working class guys and the standing of stores as being seedy dark dens full of smoke and filthy language didn’t help change this.
Bookies sought to make a larger customer base by introducing new features, such as live sport in shops and new football coupons to encourage more diverse clients and bets. The removal of this’trebles rule’ on soccer 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 better image, wider array of stakes and markets, even more televised sports (particularly Premier League soccer ) and an ever-increasing disposable income, saw the bundles of bookmakers rise again.
By the mid-1990′s the industry seemed locked down with five massive companies dominating the landscape, together with a few independents across the nation. Many believed betting and gaming will be like this forever. This was until the internet came along.
New Millennium And The Internet Online betting 2As the 1990′s drew to a close a brand new threat started to emerge to the older established order, online gambling. This was dangerous to the established high street bookies than you may imagine.
High road bookmaking was regulated by different betting and gaming functions and much more importantly bets were taxed (9p/#1 staked). Online gambling nevertheless was a little bit like the wild west, so you can essentially set up in which you desired, launch a website and begin taking bets from clients — tax free.
Although preventing tax on gaming bets and winnings was in the time technically illegal it was almost impossible to police. New companies along with the old high street bookies began to set up new sites, largely based off coast in Gibraltar or Malta, to make the most of this tax free commerce (most are still based there today).
From the late 1990′s and early 2000′s the industry share online was very low and even though the new unregulated online commerce was a concern that it was not widespread enough to induce changes yet. The bookies were still making enough from the high street though taxation averting new manufacturers were taking a slice of the profits.
Victor Chandler And Tax
In 1999 Victor Chandler (now BetVictor) transferred his bookmaking business off shore to Gibraltar in protest in the betting tax rates in the UK, selling his 41 shops to Coral. This enabled Victor to supply betting opportunities to world-wide customers, especially from Asia, without paying UK tax. It also enabled UK punters to bet with no even paying the 9p/# bet taxation.
It is thought it was this decision that directed the then UK chancellor, Gordon Brown, to eliminate 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 left in the UK and by this stage the boat had largely sailed and most conventional bookies were conducting their online performance from abroad.
2005 Gambling Act
gambling act 2005
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