Coral (bookmaker)

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Coral's logo

Coral is a chain of betting shops in the United Kingdom, owned by Entain. The Coral business was established by Joe Coral in 1926. It grew into an entertainment conglomerate before undergoing a series of ownership changes starting in 1981. As of 2015, Coral had 1,845 shops across the country.[1]


Joe Coral (born Joseph Kagarlitski, 11 December 1904 – 16 December 1996[2][3]) began his bookmaking business in 1926 and, although primarily concerned with operating betting pitches at racecourses, together with his friend Tom Bradbury-Pratt, he ran speedway meetings at Harringay and opened a credit office in the West End of London in 1943.

He had greyhound racing pitches at Harringay Stadium and then White City Stadium followed later by Clapton Stadium and Walthamstow Stadium before branching into betting offices.[4][5]

He was one of the first to take advantage of the new legislation and opened his first licensed betting office in 1961. The new law was not intended to encourage betting and therefore shops were unattractive in appearance and devoid of any comforts.

Coral arranged a merger with another bookmaker, Mark Lane in 1971. By 1979, the company had become the Coral Leisure Group and had diversified to include a variety of other businesses, including casinos, hotels, restaurants, Pontins holiday camps, squash clubs, bingo clubs, and real estate.[6]

In January 1981, the Coral Group was acquired by Bass plc and although it continued to retain the Coral name it became an integral part of the growing Bass Leisure.

In September 1998, Bass sold Coral to the Ladbroke Group for £363 million.[7] The UK Government, however, ordered Ladbroke to sell Coral after the Monopolies and Mergers Commission found that the acquisition was anti-competitive.[7] The Coral business, except for 59 shops in Ireland and Jersey, was sold in a management buyout financed by Morgan Grenfell Private Equity for £390 million in February 1999.[8][9]

In November 1999, Coral acquired Eurobet, an online betting operation based in Gibraltar, for £7.1 million.[10][11] The company changed its name to Coral Eurobet in May 2000.[12] Coral Eurobet was then sold in a further management buy out in September 2002, which was backed by Charterhouse Development Capital.[13]

In October 2005, Coral Eurobet was acquired for £2.18 billion by casino and bingo firm Gala, which changed its name to Gala Coral Group, creating the United Kingdom's third largest bookmaker and largest bingo operator.[14] Coral and Eurobet continued to operate as divisions of Gala Coral.[15]

A Coral betting shop in Cross Gates, Leeds.

In July 2009, Coral announced the relocation of their broadcasting department to Milton Keynes to a purpose built studio to manage the inception of its new television channel, Coral TV.[16]

In May 2010, Coral bookmakers launched the Coral Dugout which was designed to offer in-depth football knowledge from ex-Premier League referee Graham Poll and sports presenter Jeff Stelling during the FIFA World Cup 2010.[17] In November 2011, Coral announced they had signed for 30,793 sq ft of offices at One Stratford Place at Westfields £1.45bn Stratford City scheme opposite the Olympics stadium in east London.[18]

In November 2016, Gala Coral was acquired by Ladbrokes, which changed its name to Ladbrokes Coral.[19] Coral and Ladbrokes shops continued to operate under their respective names.[20] GVC Holdings acquired Ladbrokes Coral in March 2018.[21]

Marketing and advertising[edit]

As part of their experimental marketing campaign strategy, Coral engaged in the ‘RUN 4 IT’ campaign, requiring brand ambassadors dressed in trademark robber costumes, to physically ‘steal’ customers from competitor bookies. Over the course of this three week campaign, punters were encouraged to change their betting habits with the lure of a guaranteed win loyalty card and then walked by the ambassadors to the nearest Coral. This campaign saw a 7% conversion rate and 2,447 customers were ‘stolen’ from 900 bookies.[22]


  1. ^ John-Paul Ford Rojas (24 July 2015). "Betting giants Ladbrokes and Coral merge to create UK's biggest bookmaker - but will it close stores and axe jobs?". The Daily Mirror. London. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  2. ^ Rubinstein, William D.; Jolles, Michael; Rubinstein, Hilary L. (2011). The Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 182. ISBN 978-1-4039-3910-4.
  3. ^ ""Joe Coral". The Times London, England, 19 Dec. 1996". The Times.
  4. ^ Genders, Roy (1975). The Greyhound and Racing Greyhound. Page Brothers (Norwich). ISBN 0-85020-0474.
  5. ^ Genders, Roy (1981). The Encyclopedia of Greyhound Racing. Pelham Books Ltd. ISBN 07207-1106-1.
  6. ^ Limited Report and Accounts 1979 (Report). Coral Leisure Group. 11 June 1980. pp. 8–20 – via Companies House.
  7. ^ a b Francisco Guerrera (23 September 1998). "DTI bars Ladbroke from buying Coral". The Independent. London. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  8. ^ Eibhir Mulqueen (23 December 1998). "Irish Coral shops not part of Ladbroke sell-off". Irish Times. Dublin – via NewsBank.
  9. ^ Listing particulars (Report). Ladbroke Group. 10 March 1999. p. 47 – via Companies House.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Daneshkhu, Scheherazade; Rivlin, Richard (25 February 2000). "Coral aiming for £1bn flotation". Financial Times. London – via NewsBank.
  11. ^ Report and Accounts (Report). Coral Eurobet. 24 September 2000. p. 27 – via Companies House.
  12. ^ Report and Accounts (Report). Coral Eurobet. 24 September 2000. p. 2 – via Companies House.
  13. ^ "Coral chain bought in MBO for 860m pounds". The Scotsman. 3 August 2002. Archived from the original on 1 August 2017. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  14. ^ "Casino group Gala snaps up Coral". BBC. 7 October 2005. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  15. ^ Annual Report for 2007 (PDF) (Report). Gala Coral Group. pp. 10 & 16. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  16. ^ "New systems integration team builds state-of-the-art production facility for UK bookmakers". SIS News. 27 October 2009. Archived from the original on 4 November 2011. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  17. ^ "Will Rooney Rule the World Cup? Will Messi Make His Mark? The Coral Dugout Will Be Full of World Cup Insight and Excitement This Summer!". Market wired. 24 May 2010. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  18. ^ "Westfield books Coral for Stratford HQ". Costar. 1 November 2011. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  19. ^ "Ladbrokes Coral Group – Completion of Merger" (Press release). Ladbrokes Coral Group. 1 November 2016. Retrieved 2017-12-27.
  20. ^ Barber, Bill (31 October 2016). "Coral-Ladbrokes merger completes on Tuesday". Racing Post. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  21. ^ Davies, Craig (29 March 2018). "GVC Holdings completes long awaited Ladbrokes Coral acquisition". SBC News. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  22. ^ "Coral Experiential Marketing Results". iD Experiential. Archived from the original on 2012-03-13. Retrieved 2018-03-31.

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