Ladbrokes and Coral sell off racecourse pitches

Ladbrokes and Coral will sell all their pitches to on-course bookmaker Sid Cooper.
Ladbrokes and Coral will sell all their pitches to on-course bookmaker Sid Cooper.

Two of the most famous names in betting are to disappear from the betting rings in the UK and Ireland.

UK.- GVC’s Ladbrokes and Coral, two of the best-known brands in betting, are to disappear from racecourses in the UK and Ireland. 

GVC has revealed that it has agreed to sell all 106 pitches owned by the brands to on-course bookmaker Sid Hooper.

The move means that the two brands will withdraw completely from on-course operations.

The brands have been fixtures on the rails at racecourses for decades but the significance of the market has fallen in recent years and GVC was already running the segment at a loss even before the decline was aggravated by current races being held behind closed doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The majority of on-course bookmakers have been unable to work since March, with only a minority returning to racecourses to accept bets from owners.

GVC’s trading director, Tom Ritzema, said: “This decision has not been taken lightly, and we are very sad to be calling time on Ladbrokes and Coral’s longstanding presence in the racecourse betting ring.

“GVC remains totally committed to horse racing, with a significant race sponsorship portfolio under the Ladbrokes and Coral brands, and we are the biggest single provider of betting revenues to the sport.

“A number of factors combined to lead us to conclude that a presence in the racecourse betting ring is no longer a strategic imperative for our two UK brands.

“The volume of business taken through the racecourse pitches is minuscule compared to the volumes generated in our off-course retail and digital businesses, and we no longer use the operation to hedge into the racecourse betting ring. 

“As the racecourse operation is loss-making and no longer has a strategic purpose, we have regrettably reached the decision to sell our pitches and leave the ring.

“The current situation with Covid-19, and racing behind closed doors, expedited the decision but was not one of the factors behind it.

“Standing in the betting ring will always be a huge part of both Ladbrokes and Coral heritage and history, and we are immensely proud of that.

“However, the betting landscape has changed immeasurably in recent years, and we need to change with it. We would like to wish John Hooper the best of fortune with our pitches going forward.”

GVC’s decision will be a blow to the flagging industry’s stature and optimism for the future.

A total of 17 members of staff are reported to be talking with John Hooper, who trades under the name Sid Hooper, over the future of their positions.

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