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

You might examine the gambling and gambling industry and believe there’s a whole lot of healthy competition, with countless brands currently vying for our pennies. Many businesses however, though they may seem independent, are in reality component of the exact same group, and you’ll likely not ever know it. As with many markets, there are in fact a few big players and the rest are left to scramble for the rest of the custom.
It is not just the old high street bookies such as William Hill and Betfred that occupy the top places in the biggest gaming business leagues. Many ancient online only bookmakers have beaten the older land based operators, such as Bet365, and also the world’s largest and first online exchange, Betfair. Mergers between already huge companies like Ladbrokes and Coral and Betfair and Paddy Power has created behemoth bookies. The near future of bookmaking in the united kingdom is in the balance as it risks becoming a monopoly of some very few enormous businesses, very much enjoy the energy markets.
Within this report we also examine the development of the united kingdom gaming industry, the size of the gains made together with the progressive switch to online betting and gaming.
Largest CompaniesUK Market ShareUK Market SizeEvolution of all GamblingMergers
Largest Betting Firms Ladbrokes-Coral Group Plc (possessed by GVC Holdings)
Ranking 1
Headquarters
London
Revenue
#2.5 Billion
Employees 30000
High Street Shops
4000
Established 2016 (Merger)
ladbrokes-coral
William Hill were ousted from top spot after the merger in 2016 of Britain’s second and third largest 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 farther purchased by GVC at a deal worth around #4 billion, including further power to the brand on an international scale. GVC also own and operate websites like sportingbet (although we would not recommend them to wager 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 involving them. The group own nearly 4000 gambling stores, although were made to sell over 300 from the merger, and so are just two of the most recognisable brands in the high street.
Coral, began by Joe Coral an on track bookmaker from the 1920’s, grew immediately after 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 made their very first attempt to buy Coral from Bass however this was blocked by the UK Monopolies and Mergers Commission in the moment. Coral was sold to Morgan Grenfell, a private equity company in 1999 and merged with Eurobet, one of the very first online gaming websites, in precisely the same year. Gala bingo, founded in 1991 and operating over 150 halls with an additional online presence, merged with Coral in 2005 to make the Gala Coral Group.
Ladbrokes was started by two guys 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 wealthy clients. Falling on harder times following WWII the company was sold for only #100,000. The identical legalisation of betting shops that drove Coral’s increase in 1961 nonetheless reversed the fortunes of Ladbrokes also, who were afterwards floated on the stock market for #1M in 1966. With forays to the resort (Hilton Group) and home convenience industry the Ladbrokes team grew to next largest UK bookmaker. Before their Coral merger Ladbrokes also obtained BETDAQ, the 2nd biggest betting exchange, 2013.
The group now generate more than a third of their profits from digital sources and between them have more internet customers than any other business. For much more about every brand see our complete reviews.
Ladbrokes Review Coral Review
William Hill Plc
Ranking 2
Headquarters
London
Revenue
#1.7 Billion
Employees 16000
High Street Shops
2300
Established 1934
william-hill
For a long time William Hill would be the biggest betting company in the UK with over 2300 stores and just under #2 billion in yearly earnings. The operator, which currently generates up to 200 million in annual profits and is listed on the FTSE 250, comes from modest beginnings.
In 1934 the company was established by Mr William Hill, who following some early failures and prohibited enterprises found he could earn money by means of a loophole that permitted off-course gambling using credit or post. Hill’s entered late into the gaming store business, starting their first five years after the change in law in 1966, as a result of creators belief that they were a cancer to society. He relented when he noticed how quickly his opponents were getting forward.
The business changed ownership many times down the years. Bought for 700 million in 1997, the brand has been again sold two decades later for 825 million and recorded on the London Stock Exchange in 2002.
The William Hill group have experienced some corporate failures through the years but their competitive approach, particularly online, has allowed them to dominate the industry landscape. Probably the most well known bookmaker in the world, largely down to the reality Hill’s have spread outside the UK more than any other bookie, and due to their huge amount they spend on sponsorship and advertising.
William Hill Review William Hill Casino Review
Paddy Power Betfair Plc
Position 3
Headquarters
Dublin
Revenue
#1.75 Billion
Employees 8000
High Street Shops
600 (UK + I)
Launched 2016 (Merger)
paddy-power-betfair
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 create the third biggest betting brand was surely mutually beneficial to both parties.
Paddy Power, among Ireland’s largest bookmakers, was set in 1988 but it was the online age that actually watched the newest come to life via its frequently controversial advertising approaches. Holding over 600 stores across the UK and Ireland and boasting retail earnings of nearly #1 billion Paddy Power attracted the real world places, advertising strategy and money to the merger.
Betfair on the other hand had a very different history in the gambling industry. Located as a peer-peer betting exchange rather than a traditional bookie at 2000, Betfair became the largest of its kind in virtually no time in any way. Despite better chances on offer from the exchange, the industry still remains fairly small (see later) and so in order to compete Betfair established a fixed odds sports book in 2011. Betfair would be the smaller party in the merger, generating less than #500 million in earnings. Because of this PP shareholders received 52% and Betfair 48% of the new firm.
Paddy Power Review Betfair Review
Bet365 Group Ltd
Position 4
Headquarters
Stoke-on-Trent
Revenue
#2.3 Billion
Workers 3500
High Street Shops
None
Launched 2000
Bet365
Bet365 meteoric increase has all come form the electronic industry, and believing that only today is the online gaming market bigger than the high street (excluding national lottery) which is a fairly impressive performance. When they say in their advents which Bet365 is the worlds favorite online betting company they are not lying.
Established in 2000 from a small temporary building in Stoke by today multi-billionaire Denise Coates, Bet365 currently generates massive online revenues and is the largest private company in Stoke. They own the football arena.
Denise started the company by borrowing against her fathers mortar and brick bookmaking company, established in 1974 from Stoke City chairman Peter Coates. Selling the shops to Coral at 2005 Bet365 became an internet only operator in the place where they have gained a huge customer base of more than 20+ million people from 200 nations. The manufacturer has the best reputation inside the gambling and gaming sector from both punters and insiders and boasts one of the most loyal customer bases of any business.
Frequently cited as a success story of British online business, if you should rule out the offline gaming sector then these men would be the biggest. Multi-award winnings and constantly developing new technology and ideas the only way that this organization is going in the future is up.
Bet365 Review
Betfred
Ranking 5
Headquarters
Warrington
Revenue
#800 Million
Employees 1000
High Street Shops
1650
Launched 1967
Betfred
The Betfred journey to becoming one of the biggest independent betting companies in the UK is more heart-warming than most others. Established 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 hasn’t been sold or merged and remains in the very same hands as it started in.
Fred Done is famous in particular for paying our early on Manchester United to win the league double just for them lose on both occasions (1998 and 2012). In addition, he lost #1,000,000 at a personal bet with Victor Chandler (owner of BetVictor) betting again on Man United, this opportunity to complete greater than Chelsea in 2005 – they did not. Despite these misjudgements Fred is also known for inventing the Lucky 15 along with other complete cover bets.
The business has a large betting shop operation, and since purchasing around 300 shops that Ladbrokes-Coral have been made to sell now own at the area of 1650 shops in the UK. Famed for being one of the very best racing bookmakers Betfred improved their exposure in this market by purchasing the tote at 2011 for #265. This allows them to licence totepool bets to other operators in addition to providing bespoke bag bets others do not have. Despite this Betfred’s future looks blended and will probably hinge on how well they grow online in the coming years.
Betfred Review
888 Holdings Plc
Position 6
Headquarters
Gibraltar
Revenue
#600 Million
Employees 1600
High Street Shops
None
Launched 1997
888-holdings
888 is a thoroughly modern betting company, there’s absolutely no amorous rear story here. Now part of a somewhat convoluted company arrangement, 888 Holdings is your gambling arm of parent firm Cassava Enterprises. Initially founded as Virtual Holdings running an early casino site, casino-on-net, by 2 Israeli company guys, the business grew in step with the development of the web.
The brand was renamed 888 at 2002 and despite having a hard hit when online gambling became illegal in several US lands in 2006 has continued to grow in every area of online gambling. The team run a sport (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 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 increase 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 development strategy of the company, although only marginally.
888 Sport Review 888 Casino Review
Kindred Group (Unibet, 32Red, Stan James, et al)
Ranking 7
Headquarters
Malta
Revenue
#800 Million
Employees 1400
High Steet Shops
100 (Stan James)
Established 1997
Kindred
Kindred is a title you may likely not have heard of, it’s in reality the rebranding of the older Unibet Group Plc after the purchase of more than a dozen other manufacturers.
Quickly becoming one of the largest betting companies in Britain and Europe that the Kindred group includes Stan James, 32Red, Bingo.com and Maria. Unibet is of course the jewel in the crown, the brand has grown to become one of the biggest online betting sites with over 15 million clients.
The future goal of this brand is apparent from their recent history of takeovers, paying #19 million to Stan James (which contains a new real world presence) and #175 million for 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 gambling revenue in the UK. Offline gambling is still the largest sector as this comprise the federal lottery (28 percent ), in contrast to high street bookies (27%) and land-based casinos (5 percent ) only online betting is bigger (40 percent ). The trend in offline to online is predicted to remain in the long run.
Within the online marketplace casino is the largest (slots 37% and other games 15 percent ), followed by with sports betting (40 percent ). Exchange betting (3%), online poker (2%) and online bingo (2%).
The Size Of The UK Gambling Industry
The UK gambling industry currently generates roughly #15 billion in annual revenues and is increasing quickly at up to 8% per year. Of this total over a third (#5 billion ) is created from online gaming, with a rough split of 60% casino and 40% sports betting.
The sector as a whole is to blame for contributing approximately #8 billion into the UK treasury each year and directly employs over 100,000 people (perhaps up to 500,000 in the event that you include indirect workers ).
High Street Bookmakers And Land Bases Casinos
Distribution of high street gambling venuesDespite the continuous shift towards online betting because the turn of the millennium there are still about 9000 gambling 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 owned by the Rank Group and 41 by Genting). There are in the area of 200,000 gambling machines operated in the UK also, of which approximately 40,000 will be the controversial fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
The National Lottery (along with other lottery) earnings are also contained in the general gambling revenue figure. This constitute to #3.5 billion of the total, with in the region of #250 million moving back to great causes.
High road bookmaking is liable for a similar figure, #3.5 billion yearly, claiming over 95 percent of their non-remote gambling revenue in the UK. Pool gambling (like the Tote) constitutes 4 percent with different resources, for example on-track bookies, making up just 1 percent.
Land-based casinos generate #1 billion in annual profits. Just under half of this stems from roulette (44%), per quarter from blackjack (25 percent ), a fifth (20 percent ) kind slots and other electronic 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 remote casinos. Of this 3 quarters derives in slots, together with the rest coming from table along with other games (an opposite trend to land based casinos). Poker, that can be categorized under casino, creates less than 2% of their total earnings.
Sports betting is the second biggest industry, producing around 37% of the general revenue. Of this around 54 percent comes from soccer betting, around 32 percent from horse racing and the remainder from other sources (of which tennis constitutes almost half).
Other sources of revenue include exchange gambling (~3%), on line bingo (~3%) and pool betting (~0.5%).
In 2014 the online sector made up 29 percent of the entire market share, by 2016 that had risen to 32 percent. By 2020 the business could approach 50 percent of annual earnings generated from gambling related activities in the UK.
Evolution Of High Street To Internet Betting
Aside from the odd independent bookie and some of the stalls you see at racecourses, all bookmakers now provide online gambling. Obviously, it didn’t used to be this way, and prior to the internet age breaking into the industry was easier said than done. For a complete history of gaming see our dedicated page.
Pre-1960’S
Prior to 1960 in the UK it was prohibited to take bets from horse and greyhound tracks. Gambling was heavily regulated by the government and although illegal operators didn’t exist, overall you would find it hard to put a wager from the monitor.
Bookies did take bets off-course through loop-holes in the law that allowed bets to be taken by telephone or via postal order. This is the way William Hill began out. If you were wealthy enough needless to say there were always options open to you, Ladbrokes such as started out as a gentleman’s bookmaker for high profile customers. If you were however a normal working-class lad or lass however, there were very few options open to you.
Even then most gambling at the time was for dog and horse racing only. Football gambling was largely outlawed, except for non stakes pool betting syndicate games, such as the football pools (which still exists now ).
Fundamentally before 1960 betting was not very simple as you needed to attend a race-track to do it (or do it in a back street gaming den). That’s unless you’re rich once the law did not really apply to you personally and you could bet through discreet retailers.
1960 Betting And Gaming Act And Betting Shops
Gambling shopIn 1960 the government finally embraced the new era. Normal folks had more disposable income in their pockets and they wanted more freedom with how to invest their money. The gambling action for the first time permitted off-course gambling and by the following year, May 1961, a whole host of new betting shops opened throughout the duration of the nation at a rate of 100 a week.
Betting was largely restricted to horse racing, with principles set up such as the’trebles principle’ on football. This meant all of footy bets necessary to be accumulators with 3 or more selections otherwise you couldn’t wager. The only sports you could put singles was racing.
Still this new industry was adopted by the people of Britain, sowing the seed that eventually led to the UK getting the biggest gambling nation (per head) on earth.
One of the first individuals to open these new betting shops was Joel Coral and 10,000 stores have been reported to have started over the first 6 months. Ironically the UK’s now biggest high street bookie, William Hill, initially refused to open gambling shops, stating they had been a cancer on society. He reneged in 1966.
1970s And 1980s
The bookmaker industry grew exponentially in the decades following legalisation of high street betting. From the 1970’s there were 15,000 shops in the United Kingdom.
Here is the time when a lot of the largest names we know now made and solidified their reputation. Britain’s earliest bookmakers, Ladbrokes, William Hill and Coral were earning so much they also began to invest in additional leisure sectors.
1990’S
Despite the huge success of high street bookies from the past 3 decades the industry had a restricted clientele. The vast majority of punters using betting shops were working class men and the standing of stores as being seedy dark dens filled with smoke and foul language didn’t help change this.
Bookies sought to create a bigger customer base by introducing new features, such as live game in shops and fresh football coupons to encourage more diverse clients and bets. The removal of the’trebles rule’ on football in 1990’s went a fantastic way towards supporting the bookies branch out, together with punters now able to back singles on a range of sports.
A progressively superior picture, wider array of bets and markets, even more televised sports (particularly Premier League soccer ) and an ever-increasing disposable earnings, 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 couple of independents across the country. Many thought betting and gambling will be like this forever. This was before the internet came together.
New Millennium And The World Wide Web Online betting 2As the 1990’s drew to a close a brand new threat began 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 controlled by various betting and gaming functions and much more importantly bets were taxed (9p/#1 staked). Online gambling nevertheless was a tiny bit like the wild west, so you can essentially set up in which you wanted, launch a site and begin accepting bets from customers — tax free.
Although preventing tax on gambling stakes and winnings was at the time technically illegal it was almost impossible to police. New firms along with the old high street bookies started to install new websites, largely based off coast in Gibraltar or Malta, to take advantage of the tax free trade (most are still based there today).
From the late 1990’s and early 2000’s the market share online was very low and although the new unregulated online commerce was a concern that it wasn’t widespread enough to cause changes yet. The bookies were still making enough from the large street even though tax avoiding new brands were taking a slice of the profits.
Victor Chandler And Tax
In 1999 Victor Chandler (currently BetVictor) transferred his bookmaking company off coast to Gibraltar in protest at the gambling tax rates in the UK, selling his 41 shops to Coral. This allowed Victor to supply betting opportunities to global clients, particularly from Asia, without paying UK tax. It also allowed UK punters to bet without even paying the 9p/# bet taxation.
It’s believed it was this decision that led the then UK chancellor, Gordon Brown, to remove the betting tax in 2001. Saying that although he removed the tax paid directly by the punter new taxes were levied on the bookies profits earned in the UK and by this point the boat had largely sailed and many conventional bookies were conducting their online operation from overseas.
2005 Gambling Act
gambling act 2005
Finally the government realised the status quo couldn’t last indefinitely. This {wasn’t|was not

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