GVC Holdings PLC (LSE:GVC) is one of the largest sports betting and gaming groups in the world. Via their unique proprietary technology platform, they provide online sports betting, casino, bingo and poker products and operate popular online gaming brands including Ladbrokes, Coral, bwin, Sportingbet, Party Casino and Foxy Bingo.
GVC Holdings founded in 2004 owns some of the industry’s leading gaming brands including sports betting brands Ladbrokes and Coral as well as bingo and games brands such as Gala, PartyCasino and Foxy brands. In addition, the Group provides B2B services to a variety of third-party operators which includes the big name MGM in the US.
GVC is taking the gaming industry by storm! 2017 saw the Group continue to reshape their business by undertaking numerous transactions. In May 2017, they concluded the sale of the payment processing business operating under the Kalixa brand which was originally part of the bwin.party acquisition.
During the second-half of 2017 GVC Holdings acquired Cozy Games, ElectraWorks Limited and its proprietary bingo software. As a result, GVC now has proprietary technology across all critical online gaming products.
And on 28th March 2018, the GVC acquired the divisions Ladbrokes Coral and Gala Coral Interactive gaming products, transforming the scale and shape of their business to create one of the largest sports betting and gaming Groups in the world.
The enlarged GVC Holdings Group, generates revenues of over £3 billion annually with a workforce consisting of c.28,000 employees and contractors, in offices and betting shops across five different continents.
Who is Gala Coral?
Gala is a huge name in the UK for Bingo and Casino both on the high-street and online, and Coral is synonymous with its UK betting shops and has a strong online presence too.
With the exception of the land-based clubs as Gala Coral doesn't own these as th retail division was sold in 2015 to Caledonia Investments plc; both Gala and Coral companies are operated by Gala Coral Interactive which is a sister division of Ladbrokes Coral which are both owned by GVC Holdings after their acquisition in 2017 which has now formed one of the world’s largest sports betting and gaming Groups.
Brief History of Coral
Coral was established in 1926 as a company which operated betting pitches at racecourses. The founders were the first to take advantage of the new gambling legislation and opened a licensed betting office in 1961. The new law in the UK was not intended to promote betting, and therefore betting shops were unattractive in appearance and devoid of any comforts.
In 1971 Coral arranged a merged with bookmaker Mark Lane in 1971 and by 1979, the company rebranded to Coral Leisure Group and had diversified to include a variety of other operations, including bingo clubs, casinos, hotels and Pontins holiday camps.
Coral Group was then acquired in January 1981, by Bass plc and although it retained the Coral brand name, it became an integral part of Bass Leisure.
It company sold again in September 1998 to the Ladbroke Group for £363 million; however, the UK Government, ordered Ladbroke to sell Coral after the Monopolies and Mergers Commission as the acquisition was anti-competitive. The Coral betting business, except for 59 high street shops in Ireland and Jersey, was sold in a management buyout for £390 million in February 1999.
In November 1999, Coral acquired the Gibralter based online betting operation Eurobet for £7.1 million. The company changed its brand to Coral Eurobet in May 2000. It was then sold out again in 2002.
In 2010 Coral launched its first online betting site Coral.co.uk followed by Coral Bingo in 2012.
Brief History of Gala
Gala Bingo was established in May 1991 after Bass plc acquired Granada Theatre Limited’s retail UK bingo clubs as a merger with their existing Coral Social Clubs.
Gala officially launched on the 17 October 1991 with 17 re-branded Granada Theatre bingo clubs with a brand new image. In 1997 130 Gala Bingo clubs were purchased from Bass from a management buy-in led by John Kelly deal backed by PPM Ventures.
Over the few years, Gala acquired other bingo clubs which increased their portfolio of bingo halls these acquisitions included 17 clubs from Ritz in July 1998, 10 clubs from Jarglen in March 2000 and 27 Riva Bingo Clubs from First Leisure in April 2000,
In December 2000, Gala diversified outside bingo for the first time with the purchase of 26 Ladbroke Casinos from the Hilton Group. In 2001 the group added the Jamba Online business.
In October 2005, Gala acquired Coral Eurobet for £2.18 billion and changed its name to Gala Coral Group, creating the United Kingdom's third largest bookmaker and largest bingo operator.
Gala Bingo online website first launched in 2006, with the company using its own proprietary software before switching to the Virtue Fusion Network in 2012. Gala Casino formed a few years after GalaBingo.com in 2008 and Gala Spins 9 years later in 2017.
Gala Coral Divisions
The Gala Casino Group purchased Coral in October 2005 for £2.18 billion, and they changed its name to Gala Coral Group, creating the UK's third largest bookmaker and largest bingo operator.
In November 2016, Gala Coral was then acquired by bookmaker group Ladbrokes becoming a sister division to Ladbrokes Coral. Coral and Ladbrokes shops continued to operate under their respective names.
Both Gala Coral and Ladbrokes Coral divisions was acquired in March 2018 by GVC Holdings which is now one of the largest sports betting and gaming groups in the world.
The company originated in 1886 by Messrs. Schwind and Pennington, commission agents for horses trained at Ladbroke Hall in Warwickshire.
The brand name Ladbrokes was formed in 1902 when Arthur Bendir joined the partnership, and the company moved to London with the first office situated in the Strand and later moving to Hanover Square in 1906 - 1913 and graduating to Six Old Burlington Street, Mayfair.
From 1913 to 1956, Ladbrokes' clientele consisted of the upper classes, many of which were members of the elite gentlemen's clubs which was situated on in the St James's area of Central London.
Unusually for the era, a woman named Helen Vernet who was a representative on British racecourses joined the company, and she was made a partner in 1928 and remained with Ladbrokes until her death in 1956 at the age of 80.
In 1956, Ladbroke was acquired by Mark Stein and his nephew, Cyril Stein for a reported £100,000. In 1961, the Betting and Gaming Act was introduced, and the government legalised betting shops. Stein then establishes a chain of betting shops and was the first to introduce fixed odds football betting.
From 1967 to 1973, Ladbroke's bookmakers business grew from less than 50 betting shops to 1,135, and the company expanded to include bingo clubs, hotels, London casinos and holiday centres.
In October 1987 the Ladbrokes brand was acquired by Hilton International, and in 1989, they acquired Vernons Football Pools. But in 1993 the company was hit by losses and was sold off in pieces, and by March 1997, was down to £70 million.
In September 1998, Ladbroke purchased Coral, a chain of betting shops with 891 locations, from Bass plc for £363 million. The UK Government, however, ordered the company to sell Coral after the Monopolies and Mergers Commission found as the acquisition was anti-competitive.
In March 1999, the company acquired Stakis Hotels gaining 53 hotels and 22 casinos. Ladbroke renamed to the Hilton Group plc later that year but in August 1999, Hilton Group decided to sell all of its gambling operations, including racetracks and casinos in the United States and bingo and betting businesses in South America. In addition, the company sold 27 casinos in the UK to the Gala Group in December 2000.
In 2006, the company rebranded back to Ladbrokes plc, and in March 2007, the Vernons brand was sold to Sportech.
In 2015 Ladbrokes began a merger with the Gala Coral Group which would lead to the combination of the two companies creating Britain's biggest bookmaker. However, the Competition and Markets Authority identified areas where the merger would harm local high street competition in the UK and said 350 - 400 betting shops would have to be sold off for the merger to be approved.
The merger completed on the 2nd November 2016 and to that effect Ladbrokes acquired the Gala Coral Group and then changed its own name from Ladbrokes plc to Ladbrokes Coral Group plc.
In March 2018, GVC Holdings purchased Ladbrokes Coral and sister division Gala Coral forming one of the worlds largest betting and gaming companies.