In the UK, bookmaking giants Ladbrokes and Coral have finally managed to agree on a deal that will see the to companies merge, creating the biggest single bookmaker in the industry. The total cost is around £2.8 billion and will now be renamed The Ladbrokes Coral group, although interestingly they will both also operate individually at the same time. A merger of this size, and by two of the leading brands in gambling, was looked at very closely indeed by the competition and market regulator, a control board set up to try and maintain competition in any sector, and it came as a surprise to some that this deal was actually given the green light considering the sizable chunk of the market they are now able to control. While this is obviously going to be a huge deal that will benefit the employees and customers of both Ladbrokes and Coral, I’m sure that all the other bookmakers that are now going to have to try and compete with this giant aren’t going to be impressed, and they will no doubt now have to try and find new ways of competing.
Sports betting, in fact any form of gambling is a massive business in the UK with a number of well-known companies all having their finger in the considerably sized pie, but with a merger such as this, there’s no doubt that a lot of the lesser well-known bookmakers are going to struggle and while finding innovative ways of attracting customers through promotional and free bets may have worked in the past, I’m not sure that those methods are going to be as successful in the future and a lot of these smaller companies are going to end up closing so how can that be good for the market overall? Personally I would have thought that a commission set up to stop companies creating a monopoly would have seen that while this deal may well be good for Ladbrokes and Coral, what it does mean that other companies in the gambling industry are now at a massive disadvantage and it’s the customers more than anyone that’s going to feel that knock-on effect.
When it comes to online gambling, the market at the moment is saturated and it seems that nearly every month we are seeing more and more online casinos and sports betting companies opening up and the trend recently has been to close down the bricks and mortar stores. What this merger as done is maybe shift that trend a little and whereas in the past there has been a concern that the high street bookmakers are slowly disappearing and taking precious employment opportunities with them, this as now maybe re-affirmed Ladbrokes and Coral’s commitment to the retail side of the industry and while there are a lot of questions to be answered by this merger, that fact alone could be the reason why the competition and market regulator seemed only too happy to approve a deal of this size.