Betfred are one of the more iconic names in the bookmaking industry within the UK. The company were founded by brothers Fred and Peter Done in 1967 and since then have gone to be an institution within the gambling industry.
The high street is still an integral part of the business for Betfred and as a result, they still have over 1,300 betting shops in operation. It’s also pretty rare in that the Betfred brand are still standing on their own two feet and haven’t been part of any major mergers in their history either.
High Street Betting Shops
Betfred are one of the few bookmakers who are still very prominent on the high street at the minute. They almost feel of a brand that are keen to continue in the traditions that served them so well, and whilst they offer up a more than satisfactory online sportsbook, the high street is where they are most comfortable.
At the minute that are able to offer up over 1,300 betting shops across the UK and Ireland. A turnover of £8billion a year signifies just how influential they are and with it, they are a brand that is working hard on maintaining the high street betting industry going.
The high street presence has always been on that’s continued to grow. Whilst expansion has levelled off over the last couple of years, since 2003 they have managed to add another 1,000 shops in total. They are one of the few that are going against the grain of selling off the high street stores in favour for online, and doing a great job in the process.
On the Internet
The online betting section of the industry has been very successful. It’s undoubtedly the way in which the company makes the majority of their income these days and they are often thought of as one of the major online bookmaker.
If we are being honest, the online site does leave a little be desired in the current climate. The site is now looking a little dated and we feel that it’s in need of a bit of a makeover. The best way that we heard it being described is neglected and that’s exactly what we think it is. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it, but when you compare to the likes of bet365 and BetVictor, there is definitely something missing in terms of design.
The actual contents of the site from a betting perspective is actually really good. They are huge with both football and horse racing fanatics, so if you are keen on either of these two sports, you’re going to be made to feel very welcome.
They are able to offer a number of features that you cant get from the high street stores, such as cash out betting, live stats, live betting, live streaming, stacks of betting promotions, a huge range of sports and a link between their casino, poker and bingo sites. Don’t forget, all this is available via their mobile betting app as well!
The Betfred brand comes of the back of two brothers, Fred and Peter Done. The pair were born into a gambling background and throughout the 50’s and 60’s the pair often worked as runners for their fathers gambling firm of the day. They used to visit local pubs and factories, collect bets and then report back to the office with said bets.
This was all before betting shops had been made legal. But, the done brothers didn’t actually break through with a shop of their own until 1967, some 6 years after the ban on high street bookmakers had been lifted and several years after brands such as William Hill and Ladbrokes had been expanding in the industry.
They were able to purchase their first store on the back of a successful bet on England to win the 1966 World Cup. They invested their money into a shop in Salford, Manchester and the rest, as they say, is history!
The company weren’t able to expand at the rate of some of the bigger names, but Fred and his brother Peter knew that and were happy to just have their own turf within the Manchester. But, the innovative pair were always coming up with new ideas for betting markets, finally coming up with the launch of the Lucky 15 in 1984. This same bet is still as popular today as it was back then and is often seen as the first real innovation within betting markets and opened the door for so many that followed.
By 1997 the company had managed to break the 100 shops market and a this point they were really starting to gain traction. One of their most iconic market ploys was to pay out early on certain betting market. They were the first to do so in 1998 paying on Manchester United to win the Premier League. Unfortunately for them, Arsenal managed to pip them to the post, creating huge buzz around the brand.
As Betfred continued to grow, in 1999 they were able to make their first acquisition, which came in the form of 40 shops from the Demmy Racing Group. By 2005 they now had over 50 shops to their name and also created the first betting shop millionaire the previous year.
By this point – 2004 – the company were fully online. They were sponsoring some of the biggest sporting teams – Manchester united – and some of the biggest sporting events – Group 1 Sprint Cup, Group 2 Temple Stakes – in the world. By 2006 they had already gone mobile, becoming one of the first bookmakers to do so and just 3 years later announced that they now owned a staggering 800 betting shops, seeing huge growth over a 10 year period.
2011 saw the company’s biggest acquisition in the form of the Tote in a deal worth £265million. Betfred were actually chosen from a shortlist of companies that had applied to buy the company from the government. As part of the deal it was set out that some of the money would go back to tax payers and also to horse racing charities.
However, since 2011 Betfred’s dealings with the Tote haven’t always been that popular from people inside the industry. They have often been criticised for not putting enough money back into the industry and there have been consortiums formed to try and by back the company to allow for more funds to be giving to racing charities. But, Done does refute the claims, staking that they have never been in a better position in regards to the money that is re-invested from the Tote.
Betfred are still a brand that is continuing the make some really positive strands, even in the competitive era that we live in today. It’s probably fair to say that they aren’t growing as they once were, especially going from revenue figures of £550million to £3.5billion within 1 financial year back in 2004. But, the industry is a very different place than it was back then, so we wouldn’t expect them too.
The work that Betfred has done for sports such as horse racing, snooker and football is to be commended. They have been able to plough millions back into these sports and at time where, especially with horse racing and snooker, they desperately needed an injection of life.
Betfred in the news
Betfred to acquire 322 Ladbrokes/Coral Shops in £55m deal (11th October 2016) – As a result of the Ladbrokes/Coral merger the company are being made to offload over 350 betting shops throughout the UK, with Betfred looking to cash in on the deal. The deal sees Betfred acquire 322 stores whilst Stan James will pay £500,000 for the remaining 37.
Gambling Commission orders Betfred to pay £800,000 (14th June 2016) – Betfred have been ordered to pay back over £800,000 in money from a VIP customer. Convicted thief, Mathew Stevens, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft earlier this year after funnelling the cash in money laundering claims.
Betfred wins auction for Tote with £265m deal (3rd June 2011) – Betfred have been successful in their bid to buy the Tote in a deal worth a reported £265million. They were part of the final 3 selections from the potential take over winners and received their news in early June 2011.