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What Does The Merger of Coral And Ladbrokes
Mean For Betting Bonuses?
The business environment is like a bubble bath (and that is probably the weirdest metaphor you've heard all day) – some bubbles keep bouncing on the surface of the water, growing stronger with each jump, others simply burst into nothingness, and a few of them merge to form even bigger bubbles. Usually it's not a big deal – most of the time I bet you won't even notice (no pun intended). But when two of the biggest bubbles in your bath bump together, merging to form the largest bubble you've ever seen in your life, you kinda have to stop and admire the view for a little bit, pondering the implications that the balloon's existence has on your bubble bathing experience as a whole. Such is the case of the corporate merger between Coral and Ladbrokes, two of the biggest betting operators in the UK who pulled a Voltron on us and formed the MegaBet-a-Tron known as the single biggest betting firm in the UK. So you know, nothing worthy of your attention whatsoever.

The Merger

Gala Coral and Ladbrokes officially joined forces on July 24th this year, forming a powerhouse worth a whopping £2.3 billion! This merger has finally allowed them to surpass their sworn enemy William Hill for the No. 1 spot, whose CEO I'm sure is currently waving his fist in the air while shouting things like “I'll get you next time, Ladbrokes Coral. Next time!”. It is expected that the new deal will bring savings of up to £6.5 million a year, but will also unfortunately lead to the closing of some of the 4,000 stores that the company operates due to monopoly concerns (the business concept, not the game, but it wouldn't surprise me if that's how betting firm owners decide what to do with their stores). I don't know, if you ask me when two companies merge they should naturally get bigger, not smaller, but hey, nobody ever asks me about that stuff. “This is a major strategic step [...] which firmly accelerates our strategy to improve the customers' experience and build recreational scale”, says Ladbrokes chairman Peter Eskrine in what is probably the most generic public statement ever made by a company chairman.

So, What Does That Mean For Betting Bonuses?

I'm sure this is the first question that has popped into your head after you learned of the merger, wasn't it? No, no, please, hold your applause. In all seriousness, though, the question is kind of complicated. As sites like have shown us, one of the ways Coral and especially Ladbrokes stayed competitive was with their awesome bonuses. I mean, let's compare numbers, shall we? William Hill, the current #2 biggest bookie in the UK and formerly #1, offer absolutely no bonus for new members, and only a limited selection of bonuses for existing ones. They were at the top, so they didn't really need to waste money on attracting new clients. They had the marketshare they needed. William Hill was the best. It's like Coca Cola suddenly starting a “buy one get one free” promotion for Coke; it just doesn't need to happen, as the losses aren't worth it. Ladbrokes, on the other hand, offers £25, no questions asked, which isn't a lot, but it's more than what William Hill offers! Being left in the dust by the likes of WH, Ladbrokes had to fight tooth and nail for every single customer they had. They not only had big bonuses – they had them regularly. But all of a sudden they no longer need new customers, as they've not only gained a huge boost by taking the #1 spot for themselves, but have also gotten all of Coral's customers, which is a pretty considerable amount.

So, Is The Future Dark?
The cynic in me would like to say yes, but the truth is, not necessarily. Keep in mind that customers leave all the time. Some grow disinterested in betting, others suddenly find themselves lacking the financial opportunity to do it, a handful of them go insane, and yes, a good chunk of them tend to die, because that is something that people do a lot. In order to sustain your business, new customers need to be brought in all the time, and old ones need to be reminded of what they love about it. That's why Coca-Cola constantly runs those cheesy ads where overly happy people drink Coke while talking about friendship – it's not that they'd go bankrupt without ads, it's mostly to maintain the product in the public consciousness. In order to retain their #1 spot, Ladbrokes Coral are going to have to do the same, and the way to go about it isn't with cheesy ads where overly happy people bet while talking about friendship, because betting in general is a very niche activity, and most people wouldn't be convinced to place a bet by an ad. No, the absolute best promotional tool, one that has been used by bookies literally for centuries, are bonuses. And not only welcome bonuses, but also ones catered to the already active members. So, at the end of the day, should you be optimistic or pessimistic? I don't know. You've got a head on your shoulders, don't you? Choose for yourself, and let's hope for the best.

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