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#TBT – The Early Days of Ladbrokes and Coral

Here at Ladbrokes, we pride ourselves on being one of the most trusted gambling companies in the world. With services available in 23 languages and spanning over 16 currencies, we offer everything from horse betting, poker, casino and bingo, to regular sports betting. For years we have been a familiar fixture on the highstreets of the UK, as well as now holding a strong presence within the online betting community – and we’re still going strong and growing day by day.

Whereas this may be the Ladbrokes we all know today – our history actually goes back a lot further than you might think. Compared to the successful and accessible business empire that is Ladbrokes and Coral today, we actually started from very different beginnings. Here’s a little more of our story as we’re throwing it back again to tell you how it all began…

Way back in the 1900s, when the Peerage was still a huge part of how society was structured – the only citizens who were entitled to officially place bets and gamble for entertainment were those who were of ‘noble’ blood. That meant unless your name began with a title such as Duke, Marquis, Earl, Viscount or Baron, you weren’t able to join the fun. Unfair, right? As the decades rolled by though, this slowly started to change.

By the 1950s-60s both Ladbrokes and our competitors all had very different opinions as to who in society should be able to gamble and place bets. William Hill, on one hand, believed that all betting and gambling should remain a private activity for the elite, and that the opening of the sector would be its downfall. Joe Coral was slightly more open minded, but wasn’t willing to rock the boat too much. He initially intended to use the Isle of Wight as a test ground for public betting before rolling this idea out across the UK. However, in 1956 when Cyril Stein became the new director of Ladbrokes – he saw this as the golden opportunity the industry desperately needed, and quickly began a rapid expansion cross the UK.

When the Stein's took over the business, most of their clients were upper class members of various gentlemen’s clubs in Central London. Cyril, however, recognised the need to take on newer clients. The law at the time in the UK restricted cash betting to on course, and all off course bookmaking had to be done on credit. UK laws also favoured criminals, due to gambling debts not being enforceable. With his hands tied on the off course side of things, Stein began sponsoring small greyhound tracks with no minimum bet requirements, giving Ladbrokes huge name exposure, particularly within less privileged circles, while still maintaining their ‘elite’ class clientele at bigger tracks. When the UK finally legalised betting shops in 1961, Stein’s strategy had paid off and Ladbrokes became a huge success.

By 1962 there were 13,340 betting shops across the UK. Screens and hot drinks were only allowed in shop in 1986; it wasn’t until 1995 that betting shops could even have natural light! A far cry from the high street branches of our favourite betting shops today. The merging of Ladbrokes with the Gala Coral Group created Britain’s largest ever bookmaker, and we are now proud to employ over 30,000 workers in near 4,000 betting shops throughout the country.

So as you can see, our company story of success is one of growth and learning. The exact same can be said of our attitude towards our employees. We encourage each and every one of our people to flourish with us and learn on the job. If you’re looking for a role that will surprise and excite you, then it’s time for you to join our team and help us to continue to bring entertainment and gaming to life. Visit our careers page today to view our latest posts, and you could become part of our history too…