The internet-based betting industry has revolutionised the way it’s run. There’s no doubt when we say it has had a negative impact on bookmakers in the high street though, with many of the smaller companies getting bought out by bigger competitors.
Whilst numbers are certainly down on where they were at their peak, the main street has been surprisingly solid in the gambling sector over the past 10 years or around. Granted, stores have closed but it is for the first-time in long time , the market has stabilized and sometimes experienced periods of growth over the last 5 years or more.
The biggest difference that we have seen is the fact that there are less brands to choose from. As you will see from the list below, vast majority of the 8,423 brick and mortar bookmakers on the streets of the UK are run by 5 brands.
This is our list of the biggest high street brand names in the industry right now.
William Hill – 2,200 Shops
William Hill is one of the most recognizable brands in the world of gambling. The first time they opened their doors was in 1934 and have since then have been able to experience huge success from and within the retail sector and the online sector.
The majority of the workforce of 16,000+ do their jobs in the betting shops, and make up the huge revenue of PS1.6 billion earned each year.
The brand has been sold multiple times throughout the years and is one of the most invested in bookmakers that the industry has ever seen.
The first takeover took place in 1971 in the year 1971, when Sears Holdings first got involved. Others include The Grand Metropolitan in 1988 and after that Brent Walker in 1989. Since then they have acquired and sold a number of segments of the business which include greyhound tracks, betting stores, and software companiesto mention just a few.
The brand is also an outspoken brand in the wake of the recent regulations regarding FOBTs. The brand has stated that they are likely to see 25 percent of their betting stores being shut down as a result and the loss of nearly 7,000 jobs.
Ladbrokes 1.800 shops
Ladbrokes is another company that has been a staple in our high streets for a long time until today. They’re the oldest bookmaker within the UK and first came into existence in 1896, which was long before high street bookmaking became legal in 1961.
The company is now member of GVC Holdings, who bought the Ladbrokes Coral brand not long after the two bookmakers merged in a deal initially valued at PS2.3 billion. GVC then made a payment of PS4 billion for this Ladbrokes Coral group along with the assets included with it, making it the largest gamble deal ever.
It’s worth noting that both Coral as well as Ladbrokes operate as distinct brands in the high street however they are in essence part of the same business. This implies it is the case that GVC Holdings are technically the largest company on the high street, with more than 3300 betting establishments within the sector.
Ladbrokes are probably the major early pioneers in high-street bookmaking They were also the first to really get into the game with regards to numbers. Within six years of the time that the legalization of betting on the street was made illegal in UK they had managed to open over 100 betting shops, several times more than any other brand. As a result, they were the first company to go public through the stock exchange and are internationally recognized as one of the biggest betting companies in the world.
Coral – 1,500
Coral began its journey in 1926, and was set up from a tiny London-based office. They became extremely well-known, at least in the beginning and focused on making sure they had the highest possible product at the lowest price to their customers.
They ruled the dog and racetrack tracks in the UK for many years, but took on their first high street betting store in 1961. In just 12 months, Joe Coral (formerly Joseph Kagarlitsky) was able to open 26 betting establishments in the UK which helped them be one of the largest in the world at the time.
As of 2005, Coral acquired the Gala brand, which increased their worth at PS2.1 billion. Then , the merger with Ladbrokes about a decade later led to them being capable of advancing in the same manner, and, like Ladbrokes today, they’re a component of GVC Holdings’ empire.
Their presence in the high street is one that has some uncertainty than the majority. It’s likely that any reshuffle in GVC Holdings will mean that many of the shops change to focus exclusively on one or two brands which could cause the Coral name in jeopardy moving forward.
In the present this is speculation but they’re one of the biggest names on the high street at the moment.
Betfred – 1,600
Fred Done founded Betfred in 1967 and remains integral to the company today. In an industry that sees transactions and mergers almost every month, Betfred are still owned and operated by Done, which tells a lot about the underlying principles behind the brand.
The main street has been very accommodating to Betfred as they managed come out of the shadows thanks to a bet of their own – on England to win that 1966 World Cup. They had huge success on the local horse and dog race tracks, however it was on the main street, first in their hometown of Salford in the UK, that Done could grow its Betfred brand.
This has led to Betfred has one of the largest ranges of shops on the high street in the business. Their success has been widely built on Done’s capability to create game-changing betting markets such as Lucky 15, Goals Galore along with Double Delight.
One of the most significant moves in the company’s history was the acquisition of Tote in the year 2011. After a long process that included the bidding process for this contract with the federal government, they decided to choose Betfred as bookmaker to take the business forward for the amount of PS265 million which included a percentage the money going to the government and the sport of horse racing.
The thing that is interesting what’s interesting about Betfred is that they are one of the few firms striving to make a mark into the high-street. It’s obvious that Done has come up with a formula that punters love, and they appear to be one of the more solid brands in this time of uncertainty.
Paddy Power – 660 Shops
Paddy Power are one of the biggest and best exports from Ireland that the sector of gambling has seen. They currently have one of the less collection of shops on our list, yet they have an enormous presence in their native Ireland.
The company has seen a rise in success since the majority of bookmakers switched to online betting. The high street has been generally welcoming towards Paddy Power, and where the FOBTs that are severely restricted across the UK have affected other bookies However, they’ve never been excluded from Irish betting stores, so Paddy Power won’t feel the pain in the same way that UK only bookmakers will.
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In reality there are more Paddy Power shops is on an increase, growing from just 350 in 2010, to nearly 600 today.
The merger of their company with Betfair in 2016 made them the biggest bookmaker, in terms of turnover and is now worth a staggering PS10 billion due to the merger.
Boylesports – 300 Shops
Boylesports is one of the most intriguing bookshops around the globe at present. They are one of the biggest independent bookmakers in Ireland and have a significant market presence on the high streets that includes more than 250 betting shops.
However, they made headlines in 2019 when, just months after the gambling industry limited FOBTs and other bookmakers were talking about closings, BoyleSports stated they would be entering their first UK market. Their initial acquisition was that of 13 stores under the Wilf Gilbert brand, but they was hoping to see this number surpass the 100 mark by the end of 2020.
The company failed the attempt to take 400 stores off the back of the Ladbrokes-Coral merger, as they were obliged by the law of market monopoly compliance to offer sales on a few of their stores. However the possibility of selling elsewhere has since emerged.
It will be fascinating to determine if Boylesports will be able to buck the trend of a decline in betting shops on the high street and bring new life to the betting industry.