There are plenty of accomplished bookmakers operating in the UK betting space, some more well-known than others. But just who is behind these bookmaking houses exactly? Are they run from the UK or somewhere else? Are they privately owned or listed publicly on the stock exchange without any majority shareholders?
Today we take a look at some of the familiar names on the UK bookie landscape and see just who is behind each of these powerhouse companies or you can read more about the biggest ones by market cap here.
William Hill is a publicly listed company on the London Stock Exchange, after it was floated in 2002. Prior to this, the company was owned by a string of people and companies, the first being the eponymous William Hill, a London bookmaker. After this the company was owned by Sears, Grand Metropolitan, and private equity firms. There is no majority shareholder in William Hill as of time of print.
Ladbrokes, Coral, SportingBet & bwin
Ladbrokes was originally owned by Schwind and Pennington, although later on other partners joined the fold. The company changed hands in 1956 to a fellow named Mark Stein, who developed fixed odds betting in football, and the company was listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) in 1967. SportingBet was originally founded by Mark Blandford, and was taken over in 2012 by William Hill. After a merger in 2016 between Ladbrokes and the Coral Group, they became known as Ladbrokes Coral, although kept the two brands (Ladbrokes and Coral) running as their own separate arms. GVC Holdings acquired Ladbrokes Coral itself in December 2017 and is listed on the LSE. Bwin was founded in 1997 and floated on the Vienna Stock Exchange before acquisition by GVC Holdings in 2016. GVC is listed on the London Stock Exchange and has no majority shareholder.
Betway is a relative newcomer to the industry, founded in 2006. The brand is owned as well as operated by Carmen Media Group, a worldwide privately owned gaming group that is licensed out of Gibraltar. Betway not only carries gaming licenses in the UK, but in various other EU countries such as Denmark and Germany.
Unibet is a brand that is part of the Kindred Group stable of gaming brands, including 32Red and iGame. Kindred were formerly known as Unibet Group, before changing names to indicate a shift in diversification of brands and product offerings. Kindred Group is listed on the NASDAQ Stockholm, with no majority shareholder.
Paddy Power & Betfair
The Paddy Power brand is part of a number of brands owned and run by Paddy Power Betfair. Paddy Power came into being from the combination of three different bookmakers out of Ireland forming a merger, whereas Betfair was originally founded in 2000, as the world’s first betting exchange. The Paddy Power Betfair name came about from the merger of Paddy Power and Betfair in 2016. Paddy Power Betfair is listed on the London Stock Exchange and has no majority shareholder.
Betfred is a private English company, owned by pair of brothers Fred Done and Peter Done. The brothers have built the company from the ground up, starting from just a single bookmaking shop in 1967, now have an estimated revenue of almost £450mn a year. The brothers themselves belong to the billionaires club.
Betvictor has been around since 1946, when the founder’s sons Victor Sr. and Jack inherited the bookmaking side of the business out of Walthamstow Stadium. After Victor Sr. passed away, his son Victor Jr. moved the business to Gibraltar. The business was sold to Michael Tabor in 2014, a bookmaker and businessman, who controls a majority stake in company.
SMarkets is a relatively small bookmaking startup that was founded in 2008, based out of London. Smarkets is unusual in that they offer peer to peer betting services. SMarkets is owned in shares by a number of European investors after several successful founding rounds.
Bet365 is another company with a large presence in bookmaking, a UK betting company that’s (also) actually registered in Gibraltar. The company also has a license to operate in Australia. The company was founded in 2000 by Denise Coates, daughter of Peter Coates. The company itself is family owned; by Denise (who is CEO, now a billionaire and the highest paid boss in the UK), along with her brother John (in joint CEO position) and father Peter (as a chairman).
As you can see, there are plenty of different ownership setups across the UK bookmaker landscape. You might like to give it a think before you decide which company to lay down your bets on game day. Do you want to put your bets with a private UK company? Big boys GVC? Whatever the case may be, you’re sure to find a platform that suits you down to a tee – if you haven’t already, that is!