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Should UK Bookies Merge?

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According to some statistics I viewed recently, the Top 10 UK bookmakers (bookies) have over 7600 shops in the UK. Of course, there are also a large number of smaller, totally independent bookmakers – so the true number of UK betting shops is probably over 8000. The Top 10 bookmakers in the UK are currently:

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1) William Hill – circa 2200 shops
2) Ladbrokes – circa 2200 shops
3) Coral Eurobet – circa 1600 shops
4) Betfred – circa 750 shops
5) Totesport – circa 500 shops
6) Scotbet – circa 75 Shops
7) Mark Jarvis – circa 75 Shops
8) PaddyPower – circa 70 shops
9) Corbetts – circa 60 shops
10) E Coomes – circa 60 shops

Will the global credit crunch have any effect on UK bookmakers? I don’t think that it will reduce the need or desire for punters to place bets. But with increasing pressure from management and shareholders to “reduce costs, and build bigger profits”, it is possible that some bookmaking firms may merge their land-based shops to save money. There’s no apparent reason for the larger bookmaking chains to merge – but it may make sense for those chains with less than 100 shops to consolidate.

Will it ever happen? Maybe. I’m not bothered, because I make my sports bets online on Betfair. I find their odds to consistently be the best value. Online betting operators will always offer better value than the betting shops, due to their lower overheads.

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