Speculation is rife that the merger of betting giants Coral and Ladbrokes will be finally announced next week. With national press coverage (via the Sunday Times - subscription needed to read) and the industry buzzing with the news, this page looks at the effects for the average punter.
Below I have looked at the situation with the betting shops – then the online brands after that. With competition so fierce among the bookies, it is unlikely that the deals will get worse due to less choice – it would be too easy for punters to move their betting elsewhere for the new group to get away with that.
Ladbrokes – Coral Merger: Effect on Shops
It is reported that around 400 shops will need to be sold on competition grounds. My understanding is that areas which would be dominated by only Ladbrokes and Coral shops would fall foul of competition rules. This is a good chunk of shops, though it seems rival Paddy Power have been linked with stepping in to buy them.
At this point it is not known whether the new merged company will also merge their betting shops separately from those required by the competition authorities. This could make sense as a cost-cutting measure if nothing else.
Ladbrokes – Coral Merger: Online Betting
Whether the merged company will keep both online betting sites running, or consolidate them into one unit is an interesting question. This has not been mentioned as part of the press releases as yet. With such huge brand recognition for both names, it would make sense to keep them both – and to consolidate the back ends so that there were not too many duplicate roles from running both sites.
It will be interesting to see how much the odds will match between the sites.
Both online sites currently use PlayTech software. This also applies to the casino and to the poker room (both are a part of the iPoker Network). Whether there are restrictions on having accounts at both sites remains to be seen.
Ladbrokes – Coral Merger: The Future
If the new company can realize cost savings (through job role elimination), then they may well be able to put their improved profits into fighting the completion. This could be a benefit for players, as the likes of Paddy Power, William Hill and Bet365 would need to up their game in terms of their promotions, betting bonuses and service in order to stay competitive.
I am personally confident that the barriers to entry and fierce competition are low enough that one giant firm taking over the industry is not an issue.
Only time will tell!