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UK Bookmakers – Who To Choose?

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The internet-based betting industry has changed the way how the business is managed. There’s no doubt to say that it has had a negative impact on bookmakers in the high street however, with a number of the smaller brands getting bought out by larger competitors.

While numbers are certainly lower than they were at their highest, the high street has been relatively stable in the sector of gambling during the past decade or so. There have been closures of some shops but this is the first time that in long time the sector has stabilised, and sometimes seen periods of growth in the past five years or around.

The most significant difference we’ve seen is the fact that there are less options for brands. As you can see from this list, vast majority of the 8,423 brick and mortar bookshops on the streets of the UK are now owned by only 5 brands.

This is our list of the largest high street brands in the industry currently.

William Hill – 2,200 Shops

William Hill is one of the most iconic betting brands within the gambling industry. The company first began operations in 1934, and since then have gone on to be a huge success both the high street and the online sector.

A majority of workforce of more than 16,000 are employed in betting shops. They make up the huge revenue of PS1.6 billion produced each year.

The company has been in the hands of different owners several times in the past and is one of the biggest bookmakers that the industry has ever seen.

The first of the takeovers took place in 1971 at the time that Sears Holdings first got involved. Others include those of the Grand Metropolitan in 1988 and after that Brent Walker in 1989. Since then, they’ve bought and sold a number of segments of the business like greyhound track, betting shop and software companiesto mention only a handful of.

The brand has also been an outspoken brand in light of the new rules governing FOBTs. They claim that they are likely to see 25 percent of their betting stores close as a result, and the loss of nearly 7,000 jobs.

Ladbrokes – – 1,800 Stores

Ladbrokes is another name which has been popular on our highstreets for decades until today. They’re the longest-running bookmaker within the UK and were initially launched back in 1896, long before the advent of high-street bookselling became legal in the year 1961.

The company is now member of GVC Holdings, who bought the Ladbrokes Coral brand not long after two bookmakers merged in a deal originally worth PS2.3 billion. GVC then paid PS4 billion over Ladbrokes Coral. Ladbrokes Coral group along with all assets that came with it, in the biggest gambling deal in history.

It’s worth noting that both Coral as well as Ladbrokes operate as separate brands on the high street however they are in essence part of the same business. This means they GVC Holdings are technically the largest business on the high street, with more than 3300 betting establishments within the sector.

Ladbrokes are likely to be the biggest pioneers of high street bookmaking They were also the first to really begin pushing the idea by numbers. In just six years, after high street betting was made lawful in UK they were able to open over 100 betting establishments, many times more than the average brand. This is why they were the first company to be listed on the stock exchange , and are regarded as one of the most renowned betting brands in existence.

Coral – 1,500

Coral began in 1926 and was established out of a small , London-based office. They were extremely popular, even in the early days and were focused on making sure they offered the best possible product at the best price to their customers.

They dominated a lot of the racetracks and the dog tracks in the UK for years, however, they took on their first high street betting shop in 1961. In just 12 months Joe Coral (formerly Joseph Kagarlitsky) had opened 26 betting establishments in the UK and pushed them to become one of the most popular in the world at the time.

in 2005 Coral purchased the Gala brand, which increased their value to around PS2.1 billion. Then , the merger with Ladbrokes about a decade later meant that they were successful in the same manner, and, like Ladbrokes, they are now element of GVC Holdings’ empire.

Their presence on the high street is one with more uncertainty than many. There is a chance that a reshuffle within GVC Holdings will mean that some of the stores will shift to concentrate upon one brand which could cause the Coral brand at risk going forward.

At the minute though this is speculation but they’re one of the most popular brands on the high streets right now.

Betfred – 1,600

Fred Done founded Betfred in 1967 and is still very much a part of the company , even today. In a business that is undergoing the acquisition of companies and changing hands seemingly every few months, Betfred are still owned and operated by Done who is a great reflection of the underlying principles behind the brand.

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The main street has been very kind to Betfred, which allowed them come out of the shadows thanks to a the bet of their own on England to be victorious in at the 1966 World Cup. They saw huge success in the local dog and horse racing tracks too, but it was on the main street, initially in their home town of Salford, that Done could grow the Betfred brand.

In the end, Betfred has one of the biggest selections of shops located in the high street the market. Their success has been widely due to the company’s ability to create game-changing betting markets like Lucky 15, Goals Galore, and Double Delight.

One of the most significant moves in the company’s history was the acquisition of the Tote in 2011. After a lengthy process that included the bidding process for this contract with the federal government, they chose Betfred as the bookmaker to propel this company forward in the sum of PS265 million and a portion of the money going to the government and to the sport of horse racing.

What’s interesting to note about Betfred is that they’re one of the few firms trying to establish themselves in the retail sector. It’s obvious that Done has created a strategy that people love and it appears that they are one of the most reliable brands in an era of uncertainty.

Paddy Power – 660 Shops

Paddy Power are one of the biggest and most successful exported products from Ireland that the gambling industry has ever seen. They currently have one of the smaller collection of shops on our list, but also have a massive presence in their home country of Ireland.

The company has seen a rise in growth since the majority of bookmakers have shifted to online betting. The main street has been generally supportive toward Paddy Power, and where the FOBTs that have been severely restricted on the UK have had an impact on other bookies However, they’ve never been banned from Irish betting shops, which means that Paddy Power won’t feel the impact in the as UK only bookies will.

In reality, increasing the amount of Paddy Power shops is on the increase, rising from just 350 in 2010, to nearly 600 today.

Their merger together with Betfair in 2016, saw them becoming the biggest bookmaker by turnover and is now worth PS10 billion due to the merger.

Boylesports – 300 Shops

Boylesports is one of the most interesting bookies in the world right now. They are one of the biggest independent bookmakers in Ireland and have a significant local presence on the high street, with almost 250 betting shops.

However, they made headlines in 2019 after, just months after the gaming industry limited FOBTs and other bookmakers were talking about closing, BoyleSports stated they would be making their debut in to the UK market. The first purchase they made was of 13 stores from the Wilf Gilbert brand, but wanted to see the number more than 100 at the end of 2020.

The company actually failed in an attempt to acquire 400 stores out of the aftermath of the Ladbrokes-Coral merger as they were obliged to comply with market monopoly laws to sell on some of their shops, however new opportunities have arisen.

It will be interesting to see how Boylesports will be able to reverse the trend of declining sales in betting shops on the high street and bring fresh life to the business.