The Betfred brand has been providing its services since 1967, when it began offering sports betting odds under the leadership of Fred Done. Since then, it has grown its “empire” so to speak, with 1,470 licensed betting shops being active throughout the United Kingdom. It also provides its services online and via mobile devices, and has become the leading sponsor of many well-known, world-class sporting events.
When it comes down to it, Betfred has definitely carved out its own path in the betting industry, leading to become a mainstay in the scene.
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An In-Depth Look at Betfred
When a company of this nature can trace its roots back to 1967, you know that it has some staying power behind it. And that’s precisely the case with Betfred. Yet the idea for the company came about one year prior, when brothers Fred and Peter Done opted to back England in the Jules Rimet Trophy game of that year. Winning their bet, they utilised the proceeds from it to set up their very own bookmaker shop in Ordsall, Salford – Done Bookmakers.
The business continued operating for multiple decades, with punters in the Salford area coming to back their favoured teams within. Yet when the mid-90s came about, the bookies wanted to expand beyond the confines of their sole shop in Salford. Absorbing the Robert Walker chain into its own brand, Done Bookmakers managed to grow from a single shop to 100 in 1997, and by the time the new millennium was set to start, that figure had risen to 200. Soon after, Done Bookmakers managed to set foot in the capital city of London.
Not only that, but in 1998, Fred Done became the very first bookmaker to pay out early, when he did so on his own beloved Manchester United to win the league trophy. It was in March of that year that this happened, when Man U were 12 points clear of their closest competitor. However, despite him paying out early to anyone who had backed the team, Arsenal managed to win the league by just a single point!
2004 marked a significant turning point for Done Bookmakers, as it was then that it was rebranded to its current name of Betfred. At the same time, it launched an online digital presence, providing not only the variety of sports betting opportunities everyone knew and loved, but a fantastic selection of other options. This included poker games, lotteries, casino games, virtual racing and much more. Turnover in that year was reported to be more than £3.5 billion, having risen significantly from £550 million in 2003. Profits have continued to grow throughout the years, with £10 billion being taken in the 2018-19 period.
Another notable occurrence was to take place in 2004, when a Betfred customer became the first betting shop millionaire. The player, known only by the name of Ken, managed to select six winners on the totescoop6, bringing him a reward of £1,132,657 via one of the shops in Salford.
Betfred would go on to open up its own racecourse retail unit at Haydock Park in 2006, which was one year after the company celebrated its milestone of 500 retail shops in the UK. That same year, partnerships with Manchester United and the renewed Wembley Stadium were announced. And then came the company’s mobile application, providing gamers and bettors with a chance to place bets from anywhere.
As of July 2017, a total of 1,650 retail shops were attributed to Betfred, with 322 of those coming from the merger between competitors Ladbrokes and Coral in October of 2016. Betfred also has shops on 51 racecourses around the UK, including those at Epsom, Cheltenham and Newmarket. It was also in September of 2017 that the company celebrated 50 years of existence, and a documentary film about it was released on YouTube for all to see.
Acquisitions by Betfred
Throughout its years of operation, Betfred has acquired a few notable companies to build itself up. The first of these came about in 1997, which was when it took over the Robert Walker chain of shops. Since then, it has been involved in a few other takeovers and acquisitions. Take a look at these below:
- 1997 – Betfred absorbs Robert Walker chain under its umbrella, acquiring 99 land-based betting shops.
- 2011 – Acquired state-owned The Tote operation via auction in a deal worth £265 million. Betfred pledged £155 million into racing over the proceeding seven years and created the Tote Racing Development Board, offering greater say to figures within the industry.
- 2016 – The Betfred brand acquires 322 Ladbrokes/Coral betting shops in deal worth £55 million as the two brands merge into one company. Fred Done comments on the purchase, saying that he still believes in Britain’s betting shops and that he wants “to invest in our high streets”.
- 2020 – Betfred purchases a 3.03% stake in rival bookmaker William Hill, with Fred Done stating that it represented great value.
- 2020 – Betfred acquires part of the customer database of the insolvent MoPlay operator Addison Global.
- 2021 – Betfred purchased Betting World sports betting brand from Phumelela Gaming for a sale price of ZAR 120 million (£6.1 million). The acquisition allows Betfred to crack the South African betting market.
All brands and shops acquired by the Betfred brand have been incorporated under the umbrella of Betfred. This means that they all operate with the Betfred logo, rather than as independent companies under it.
Any Fines or Sanctions?
While the times have been highly successful for Betfred since its beginnings back in the 60s, there have also been periods of upset. The company has been fined once or twice for various issues. Take a look below at these situations.
- 2016 – Company agrees to pay £800,000 settlement after accepting stolen cash from a VIP player, who was allegedly given free drinks and offered day trips to encourage him to keep betting.
- 2019 – Betfred fined £322,000 for failing to adequately carry out checks on a customer who managed to deposit £210,000 of stolen money online.
- 2021 – Betfred sued by player Andrew Green when it refused to pay out a £1.7 million jackpot, citing a defect on the ‘Frankie Dettori’s Magic Seven’ game. High Court rules in Green’s favour, and Betfred is forced to pay the winnings and added interest.
Without a doubt, the many years of activity and the multiple acquisitions it has gone through over the years have led to a wonderful financial status for Betfred and its owners. Have a look at some of the most recent financial figures and other statistics relating to the company below.
- Figures reported in 2020 display that profit for the period to September of that year, after taxation, was £165 million, up from the figure of £156.7 million in 2019.
- Annualised gross basis, amounts wagered and turnover for the period had decreased across the company due to COVID-19, thanks to the temporary closure of shops and suspension of elite sport.
- EBITDA fell from £48.5 million to £35.3 million over the same timeframe.
- The amount wagered with Betfred also fell from £10.1 billion to £6.4 billion, with blame being centred on the pandemic again.
Office Locations for Betfred
Betfred remains operating as the largest independent retail bookmaker in the UK, thanks to a mixture of organic and acquisition growth. It has its headquarters in Birchwood, Warrington, which is home to a variety of departments, including content, business intelligence, marketing and customer service.
A secondary office for Betfred is present on the island of Gibraltar. The company is fully licensed by the UK Gambling Commission and registered in Gibraltar, and the office there is primarily game-based.