You might examine the gambling and gaming industry and believe there is a lot of healthy rivalry, with hundreds of brands currently vying for our pennies. Many companies however, though they may seem impartial, are in reality component of the same group, and you’ll likely never know it. As with many markets, there are in fact a couple of big players and the rest are left to scramble for the rest of the habit.
It isn’t only the old high street bookies like William Hill and Betfred that occupy the best places from the biggest betting company leagues. Many ancient online just bookmakers have already beaten the old land based operators, such as Bet365, and the planet’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 future of bookmaking in the united kingdom is in the balance as it risks getting a monopoly of some very few enormous companies, very much enjoy the energy markets.
In this report we also examine the development of the UK gambling industry, the dimensions of the profits made together with the progressive switch to online betting and gambling.
Largest CompaniesUK Market ShareUK Market SizeEvolution of GamblingMergers
Largest Betting Companies 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 nearly #2.5 billion in revenue every year and employees over 30,000 individuals and is listed on the FTSE 250.
In 2018 the new group was farther bought by GVC at a deal worth roughly #4 billion, including further power to the newest on an global scale. GVC also own and run sites like sportingbet (though we would not 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 gambling stores, although were made to sell over 300 in the merger, and so are just two of the most recognisable brands on the British high street.
Coral, began by Joe Coral an online bookmaker from the 1920’s, grew rapidly after legalisation of off-course gaming stores in 1961, becoming one of the first bookies to make the most. Merging with another company in 1971 to become Coral Leisure the group was acquired by Bass in 1981. In 1997 Ladbrokes made their first effort to purchase Coral from Bass but this 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, one of the first online betting sites, in the exact same calendar year. Gala bingo, founded in 1991 and operating over 150 halls with an additional internet presence, united with ghostly in 2005 to make the Gala Coral Group.
Ladbrokes was started by two guys who acted as a commission representatives for horses (trained in Ladbroke Hill). After a move to London in the early 20th century the firm became a bookmaker for rich clients. Falling on harder times following WWII that the company was sold for just #100,000. The same legalisation of gambling shops that drove Coral’s increase in 1961 however reversed the fortunes of Ladbrokes too, who were later floated on the stock exchange for #1M in 1966. With forays to the hotel (Hilton Group) and home advantage sector the Ladbrokes group grew to second largest UK bookmaker. Prior to the Coral merger Ladbrokes also acquired BETDAQ, the second largest betting exchange, 2013.
The team now generate more than a third of their gains from electronic sources and between them have more online customers than any other business. For much more about each brand visit our complete reviews.
Ladbrokes Review Coral Review
William Hill Plc
Ranking 2
Headquarters
London
Revenue
#1.7 Billion
Workers 16000
High Street Shops
2300
Launched 1934
william-hill
For a long time William Hill would be the largest betting business in the UK with over 2300 stores and just under #2 billion in yearly revenues. The operator, which now 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 following some early failures and illegal enterprises found he could make money using a loophole that allowed off-course gambling using credit or post. Hill’s entered into the gaming store industry, opening their first five years following the change in law in 1966, as a result of founders belief they were a cancer to society. He relented when he noticed how fast his competitors were getting forward.
The company changed ownership several times down the years. Bought for #700 million in 1997, the newest was sold a couple of decades after for 825 million and recorded on the London Stock Exchange in 2002.
The William Hill group have experienced some corporate failures over the years but their aggressive approach, especially online, has enabled them to control the market landscape. Possibly the most well known bookmaker in the world, mainly to the fact Hill’s have spread out the UK over 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)
Established 2016 (Merger)
paddy-power-betfair
Many mergers are merely about money. Coral didn’t really bring anything fresh to Ladbrokes for example, however, the merger between Betfair and Paddy Power from 2016 to make the third largest gambling brand was surely mutually beneficial to both parties.
Paddy Power, one of Ireland’s biggest bookmakers, was set in 1988 but it was the online age that really saw the brand come to life via its often controversial advertising approaches. Holding over 600 stores across the united kingdom and Ireland and boasting retail earnings of almost #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 betting industry. Located as a peer-peer gaming market rather than a traditional bookie in 2000, Betfair became the largest of its type in virtually no time in any way. Despite better odds 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, generating less than #500 million in earnings. For this reason PP shareholders received 52 percent and Betfair 48 percent of the new company.
Paddy Power Review Betfair Review
Bet365 Group Ltd
Ranking 4
Headquarters
Stoke-on-Trent
Revenue
#2.3 Billion
Employees 3500
High Street Shops
None
Established 2000
Bet365
Bet365 meteoric increase has come form the electronic industry, and believing that just now is the online gambling market larger than the high street (excluding national lottery) that is a fairly impressive performance. When they state in their advents which Bet365 is the worlds favorite online gambling company they are not lying.
Established in 2000 from a tiny temporary building in Stoke by today multi-billionaire Denise Coates, Bet365 currently generates massive online revenues and is the largest private employer in Stoke. They even own the football arena.
Denise started the company by borrowing from her fathers mortar and brick bookmaking company, established in 1974 by Stoke City chairman Peter Coates. Selling the stores to Coral in 2005 Bet365 became an online only operator in the place where they’ve gained a massive customer base of more than 20+ million people from 200 nations. The brand has the best reputation within the betting and gaming industry from both punters and insiders and boasts among their most loyal customer bases of any business.
Often mentioned as a success story of British online business, if you were to rule out the offline gambling sector then these guys are the biggest. Multi-award winnings and constantly developing new technologies and ideas the only way that this company is moving in the long run is up.
Bet365 Review
Betfred
Position 5
Headquarters
Warrington
Revenue
#800 Million
Workers 1000
High Street Shops
1650
Launched 1967
Betfred
The Betfred travel to getting one of the largest independent betting companies in the united kingdom is much more heart-warming than others. Launched from one shop 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 stays in the same hands as it began in.
Fred Done is famous specifically for paying our ancient on Manchester United to win the league twice only for them shed on both occasions (1998 and 2012). He also lost #1,000,000 in a personal bet with Victor Chandler (owner of BetVictor) gambling again on Man United, this time to complete higher than Chelsea in 2005 – they didn’t. Despite all these misjudgements Fred is also famous for inventing the Lucky 15 and other complete cover stakes.
The business has a sizable betting shop operation, and since purchasing around 300 stores that Ladbrokes-Coral have been made to sell now own in the region of 1650 shops in the UK. Famed for being among the best racing bookmakers Betfred improved their vulnerability in this market by purchasing the tote in 2011 for #265. This allows them to licence totepool bets to other operators in addition to providing bespoke bag bets others don’t have. Despite this Betfred’s future looks mixed and will probably hinge on how well they develop on the internet 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 is no amorous back story here. Now part of a rather convoluted company structure, 888 Holdings is the gaming arm of parent company Cassava Enterprises. Originally founded as Virtual Holdings conducting an early casino site, casino-on-net, by 2 Israeli business men, the company grew in step with the rise of the web.
The newest was renamed 888 in 2002 and despite taking a hard hit when online gambling became illegal in several US territories in 2006 has continued to rise in every area of online gambling. The team operate a sports (888 Sport) and poker site (888 Poker) and several casino (e.g. 888 casino, 777 casino)) and bingo brands (e.g. 888 bingo, 888 ladies, Wink Bingo) with a distribution of 61% casino, 18 percent poker, 11% sport and 9 percent bingo.
888 are a international online specialist which will only increase in the future. The company was fined almost #8M by the gaming commission in 2017 for failure to properly shield vulnerable gamblers in the UK. This may slow down the aggressive development strategy of the company, although only slightly.
888 Sport Review 888 Casino Review
Kindred Group (Unibet, 32Red, Stan James, et al)
Position 7
Headquarters
Malta
Revenue
#800 Million
Workers 1400
High Steet Shops
100 (Stan James)
Launched 1997
Kindred
Kindred is a name that you will likely not have heard of, it is in fact the rebranding of the old Unibet Group Plc following the purchase of over a dozen other manufacturers.
Fast becoming one of the biggest betting businesses 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 Scandinavian brand has grown to become among the biggest online betting sites with over 15 million clients.
The future goal of the brand is clear in their recent history of takeovers, paying #19 million for Stan James (which includes a new real world existence ) and #175 million for the best rated online casino 32Red.
Unibet Review 32Red Casino Review
Market Share And Gambling Revenue Distribution
UK online and offline gaming market share
The pie charts above show a general representation of the distribution of gambling revenue in the united kingdom. Offline gambling remains the biggest sector as this include the national lottery (28 percent ), in contrast to high street bookies (27 percent ) and land-based casinos (5%) only online gambling is larger (40%). The tendency from offline to online is expected to remain in the long run.
Within the online market casino is the largest (slots 37% and other games 15%), followed by with sports betting (40 percent ). Exchange gambling (3%), online poker (2 percent ) and online bingo (2%).
The Size Of The UK Gambling Industry
The united kingdom gambling industry currently generates roughly #15 billion in annual revenues and is increasing quickly at up to 8 percent a year. Of this total on a third (Number 5 billion ) is created from online gambling, with a rough split of 60 percent casino and 40% sports gambling.
The industry as a whole is to blame for contributing around #8 billion into the UK treasury each year and directly employs over 100,000 people (perhaps up to 500,000 if you include indirect employees).
High Street Bookmakers And Land Bases Casinos
Distribution of high street gambling venuesDespite the constant change towards online betting since the turn of this century there are still about 9000 gambling 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 worked in the united kingdom too, of which approximately 40,000 will be the contentious fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
The National Lottery (and other lottery) earnings are also included in the overall gambling revenue figure. This make up to #3.5 billion of this total, with in the region of #250 million going back to good causes.
High street bookmaking is liable for a similar figure, #3.5 billion yearly, claiming over 95% of the non-remote gambling earnings in the UK. Pool betting (such as the Tote) makes up 4% with other resources, such as on-track bookies, making up only 1 percent.
Land-based casinos create #1 billion in yearly profits. Just under half of this stems from roulette (44 percent ), a quarter from blackjack (25%), a fifth (20 percent ) form 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 internet gambling revenues comes from remote casinos. Of this 3 quarters derives from slots, together with the rest coming from table along with other games (an opposite tendency to land based casinos). Poker, that can be categorized under casino, creates less than 2% of the total revenue.
Sports gambling is the second most significant sector, producing around 37% of the overall revenue. Of this around 54 percent comes from football betting, around 32% from horse racing and the rest from other resources (of which tennis constitutes nearly half).
Other sources of revenue include exchange gambling (~3%), online bingo (~3%) and pool gambling (~0.5%).
In 2014 the online sector made up 29% of the total market share, by 2016 that had risen to 32%. By 2020 the industry could approach 50 percent of annual earnings generated from gambling related activities in the united kingdom.
Evolution Of High Street To Internet Betting
Apart from the odd independent bookie and a number of the stalls you visit at racecourses, all bookmakers today offer online gambling. Obviously, it did not used to be this way, and prior to the online era breaking into the sector was easier said than done. For a full history of gaming see our dedicated page.
Pre-1960’S
Prior to 1960 in the UK it had been illegal to take bets away from horse and greyhound tracks. Betting was heavily regulated by the government and although illegal operators did exist, overall you would find it hard to put a wager from the monitor.
Bookies did still take bets off-course through loop-holes from the law that enabled bets to be taken by phone 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 started out as a gentleman’s bookmaker for high profile customers. If you were nevertheless a typical working-class lad or lass however, there were quite a few options open for you.
Even then most betting at the time was for dog and horse racing only. Football gambling was mostly outlawed, except for non stakes pool gambling syndicate games, like the soccer pools (which still exists now ).
Fundamentally before 1960 betting was not very easy as you needed to go to a race-track to do it (or do it in a back street gambling den). That’s unless you’re rich when the law did not really apply to you and you could bet through discreet retailers.
1960 Betting And Gaming Act And Betting Shops
Gambling shopIn 1960 the authorities eventually embraced the new age. Normal folks had more disposable income in their pockets and they wanted more freedom with how to invest their money. The gambling act for the first time allowed off-course gambling and from the following year, May 1961, a whole plethora of new gambling shops opened across the duration of the nation in a rate of 100 a week.
Betting was largely restricted to horse racing, together with rules in place like the’trebles rule’ on soccer. This meant all footy bets needed to be accumulators with at least 3 or more choices differently you couldn’t wager. The only sports you could place singles was racing.
Nevertheless this new industry was adopted by the people of Britain, sowing the seed that eventually led to the UK becoming the biggest gaming nation (per head) on earth.
Among the first people to open these new betting shops was Joel Coral and 10,000 shops have been reported to have opened over the initial 6 months. Paradoxically the UK’s now biggest high street bookie, William Hill, initially refused to start gambling shops, saying they had been a cancer on society. He reneged in 1966.
1970s And 1980s
The bookmaker sector grew exponentially over the years after legalisation of high street gambling. By 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 today made and solidified their reputation. Britain’s earliest bookmakers, Ladbrokes, William Hill and Coral were earning so much that they even began to invest in additional leisure sectors.
1990’S
Despite the huge achievement of high street bookies from the previous three decades the sector had a limited clientele. The vast majority of punters utilizing gaming stores were working class men and the standing of stores as being seedy dark dens filled with smoke and filthy language did not help change this.
Bookies sought to create a larger customer base by introducing new features, such as live sport in stores and new football coupons to encourage more diverse clients and bets. The removal of the’trebles rule’ on soccer in 1990’s moved a great 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, more televised sports (especially Premier League football) and an ever-increasing disposable earnings, saw the fortunes of bookmakers rise again.
From the mid-1990’s the industry seemed locked down with five massive companies dominating the landscape, along with a few independents throughout the nation. Many believed gambling and gambling would be like this forever. This was before the internet came along.
New Millennium And The Internet Online betting 2As the 1990’s drew to a close a new threat began to emerge into the older established order, online betting. This was more dangerous to the established high street bookies than you might imagine.
High street bookmaking was controlled by different betting and gaming functions and much more importantly stakes were taxed (9p/#1 staked). Online gambling nevertheless was a little bit like the wild west, you can basically set up wherever you wanted, launch a website and begin accepting bets from clients — tax free.
Although preventing tax on gaming bets and winnings was in the time technically illegal it was nearly impossible to police. New companies along with the old high street bookies began to install new sites, largely based off shore in Gibraltar or Malta, to make the most of the tax free trade (most are still based there now ).
In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s the market share online was still very low and even though the new unregulated online commerce was a concern that it was not prevalent enough to induce changes yet. The bookies were still making enough from the high street even though tax avoiding new manufacturers were taking a slice of the profits.
Victor Chandler And Tax
In 1999 Victor Chandler (currently 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 betting opportunities to world-wide customers, particularly from Asia, without paying UK tax. It also allowed UK punters to bet with no paying the 9p/# stake tax.
It is thought it was this decision that directed the then UK chancellor, Gordon Brown, to remove the betting tax in 2001. Saying that though he eliminated the tax paid directly by the punter new taxes were imposed on the bookies profits left in the united kingdom and by this stage the ship had largely sailed and many conventional bookies were conducting their online performance from overseas.
2005 Gambling Act
gambling act 2005
Finally the authorities realised the status quo couldn’t last indefinitely. This {wasn’t|was not

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