Top 5 biggest gambling companies In Europe
Since its advent in the 1990s, online gambling has grown exponentially. The industry made a total global profit of more than sixty-one billion euros in 2021. There are a few clear forerunners though. The five biggest online gambling companies in Europe are the following:
- Flutter entertainment
- Kindred Group
- 888 Holdings
These companies are located all throughout Europe and all offer slightly different things to their customers.
By the way, the fact that we are describing the above companies, does not mean we necessarily recommend them. We do recommend the online casinos below:
1. Flutter entertainment
Paddy Power was originally founded in Dublin in 1988. The company came into existence due to a merger of forty betting shops belonging to three Irish bookmakers. These were Stewart Kenny, David Power, and John Corcoran. Stewart Kenny would be the group´s first CEO, from its founding in 1988 to 2002. After this he would go on to serve as the group chairman from 2002 to 2003.
The businesses of David Power were considered to be the most recognisable brand, which is why this name was incorporated into that of the group. “Paddy” was chosen to emphasize the Irish identity of the group. The Irish gaming industry was facing heavy competition from other British chains. Many new parties were trying to establish themselves in the market, as recent changes in Irish tax code made it more attractive to start a betting company.
Paddy Power focused on becoming more visible to the general public by opening its shops in prominent locations. This was in contrast to the side streets most betting shops favoured. These locations would often provide less scrutiny than the visible locations Paddy Power chose but had the downside of being less visible to people on the street. The strategy appeared successful, as Paddy Powers´ share of the domestic betting market grew from 8% in 1988 to 33% in 2001.
Paddy Power would become listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2000, with the goal being to further expand its enterprise into the United Kingdom. Paddy Power would open forty-five outlets in the United Kingdom in the next five years, with this number rising to 139 in 2010. In total, the company had 356 shops located throughout the United Kingdom.
Paddy Power was the largest bookmaker in Europe by total share value in 2011. Its group income was €444m in 2010.
Betfair was first founded in 2000 by Edward Wray and Andrew Black. It would grown from a business venture employing just twenty-two people without any guaranteed revenue, to a company employing 530 people in five years. Its explosive growth allowed it to generate profits of almost twelve million pounds in 2004.
The company´s success led to many different ventures being explored. They would be the first betting company to sponsor a football team and would launch their own radio service in 2007.
Betfair would go on to have over four million customers in 2013, with its turnover being more than fifty million pounds every per week. Their employee count had grown to over 1800 people worldwide.
Betfair claimed 20% better odds on average than those offered by other bookmakers. They charged a commission on all winning bets. the market base rate was set around 5% to 7% of the net winnings for most markets.
Betfair would finalise a deal in 2005 to purchase the online poker site PokerChamps.com, which the company would integrate into its network.
Betfair has multiple subsidiaries in America. Their main subsidiary is TVG Network, which focuses on horse racing, broadcasting live races and race analysis, interviews, and handicapping tips. TVG Network was acquired in 2009 for fifty million dollars. Betfair also has a subsidiary called BetfairCasino.com which is a New Jersey licensed provider of online gaming products.
The Stars Group
The Stars group was a Canadian gaming company founded in 2001 and headquartered in Toronto. The company focused on operating products used for poker, casinos, and sports betting. They did this under multiple brands, such as PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, BetStars and Fox Bet.
Flutter Entertainment plc is a bookmaking holding company from Ireland which was created by the merger of Paddy Power and Betfair. The group would expand further after they acquired The Stars Group as well.
Flutter Entertainment plc first came into existence on the 8th of September 2015. The companies Paddy Power and Betfair agreed to terms for a merger, after which Flutter Entertainment plc was formally established on the 2nd of February 2016. Ownership of the business was divided between the shareholders of the former component companies. Fifty-two percent of the company is owned by the former shareholders of Paddy Power, with the remaining 48% owned by the former shareholders of Betfair
The company maintains numerous brands in the UK, Ireland, Italy, Australia and the United States. Operations in Australia and the United States are relegated to their own divisions.
The company divides its operations into four divisions. These are as follows:
This division comprises the operations that were formally the responsibility of Paddy Power and Betfair. As such, it provides online gambling services in the United Kingdom and Irelands, as well as operating an online betting exchange.
The retail division oversees the operation of the physical betting shops Flutter Entertainment plc has ownership of. As such, it oversees the operation of the six hundred plus betting shops located in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
The Australian market is mostly covered by Sportsbet, which was acquired by Paddy Power in May 2009. Full ownership was taken in 2011. Sportsbet was always kept a separate entity and is used to by the Australia division to provide services to Australian consumers.
4. United States
The United States division comprises Fox Bet, FanDuel, and the TVG Network. The TVG Network operates in thirty-five states and comprises of both a horse racing television channel as well as an online betting network. In New Jersey, the company has an online casino and a horse racing betting exchange. The company has additional operations in New Jersey, where they operate both an online casino as well as a betting exchange for horse races.
With an ever-growing yearly revenue of around five billion euros and around 14.000 employees total, the Flutter Stars Group is the biggest online gambling provider in Europe.
Bet365 is one of the British industry leaders when it comes to online gaming. The company was originally founded in 2000 by Denise Coates. She remains majority shareholder to this day and shares the function of chief executive with her younger brother John.
The company remains headquartered in the English city Stoke-on-Trent, in Staffordshire, England. Aside from their headquarters they maintain offices around the world in places such as Gibraltar, Malta, Bulgaria and Australia.
The company attains an average yearly revenue of around 2.8 billion euros and employs around 4800 people worldwide.
Bet365 was founded in 2000 and developed a betting platform and trading team to take the business online in 2001. Denise Coates had prior experience in the gambling industry. Her father, Peter Coates, had previously appointed her as managing director of the family´s betting shop estate. Peter helped fund the initial start-up of Bet365 as well and remains the company´s chairman to this day. Peter was also chairman of Stoke City, a football club based in Stoke-on-Trent. These connections would be put to effective use in 2012, when the club and Bet365 signed an agreement where Bet365 would become the club’s shirt sponsors for the next three years. In 2016 bet365 became the new sponsors for the club´s stadium as well. These sponsorships would continue developing, with Bet365 sponsoring around ten football clubs concurrently.
The American Supreme Court announced a ruling in 2018 where it was decided it would allow the different states to regulate sports betting independently. Bet365 soon announced plans to branch out into the state New Jersey in partnership with the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. Bet365 would announce further plans for expansion in September of 2022 to expand its enterprise to Colorado in partnership with Century Casinos.
Bet365 would not limit its operations to the United States. The company launched in Ontario, Canada in April 2022 after the local Alcohol and Gaming commission gave its approval. Canada had recently passed a new law legalizing single-game betting, which Bet365 would now provide to the Canadian citizens.
Bet365 has won numerous awards recognizing its status as an outstanding online gaming operator over the years. In 2010 it won the award for “Operator of the Year” at the eGaming Review Operator awards. It was also ranked the number one Internet gaming company by eGaming Review magazine three times in a row, in 2010, 2011, and 2012 as well.
Denise Coates has received personal awards as the company´s founder and joint CEO as well. In 2012 she received a CBE in the Queen´s new years honours list. This was granted to her on the basis of the services provided to the community and business. She would be named among the top hundred of most powerful women in the United Kingdom by BBC Radio 4 a year later.
As is unfortunately often the case with large gambling companies, Bet365 has experienced its share of controversy.
The company first came under scrutiny in 2014, after The Guardian published an article detailing how Bet365 had been taking bets from Chinese citizens using less than legal means to access their website. Gambling in this manner is fully illegal in China, which means they could face serious jailtime if the authorities got wind of their activities. Bet365 would apparently frequently change its website address in China to prevent the local authorities from closing them down. There was also a large call centre located in Stoke-on-Trent staffed by workers who knew how to speak Mandarin. This controversy may have sparked the company´s final transfer of its operations to Gibraltar,
Bet365 received a fine for 2.75 million Australian dollars in 2016, as the Australian CCC had concluded they were falsely advertising “free bets” to Australian customers.
There were repeated complaints of cases where Bet365 delayed or even outright denied customers their payout. In 2017 they were taken to court in Northern Ireland for refusing to pay the one million pounds they owed to the winner of a bet placed on a horse race. They refused a payout of 54000 pounds in England in 2016 and froze an Australian customer´s account after he had won 200.000 Australian dollars. These cases are among the most extreme ones, but there are several more which have only been reported by players on online gaming forums.
3. Kindred Group
Kindred Group PLC is an online gambling and gaming business that licenses online casino, poker, bingo, and sports betting. The group consists of eleven brands. These are the following:
- 32Red, a British company licensed in Gibraltar,
- Bingo.com, providing online bingo games marketed and based in the United Kingdom
- Casinohuone, which is based and marketed in Finland,
- Kolikkopelit, which focuses its efforts on Finland as well,
- Maria Casino, a gambling website that operates worldwide but lays its focus on the Nordic countries,
- Highroller, a website aimed at high rolling customers from Sweden and Norway,
- Vlad Casino, an online casino first founded for the Finnish market, but which has since focused its efforts on customers from Romania.
- Ottokasino, a pay and play brand focusing on the Finnish market.
- Unibet, the original company founded in the nineties which expanded to the point it would go on to obtain and manage the other companies in this list,
The company attains a yearly revenue around 750 million euros and has around 1400 all over the globe.
Unibet was first founded in 1997 in London by Anders Ström. After securing it´s license in 1998, the company started taking bets through telephone. Their website would first be started in 1999, after which the company rebranded as Unibet Group PLC.
The website would soon experience unprecedented growth, with the company expanding its features to the point it supported up to twelve different languages. This was done as the website now serviced up to three hundred thousand customers from over a hundred countries. The company would be listed on the Swedish Stock Exchange in 2004. It would also move its headquarters to Malta, as this simplified contact with its worldwide customer base.
The company would go on to acquire numerous other companies over the years, which is why they rebranded as the Kindred Group in 2016 as part of their new multi-brand strategy. The company would pass one million registered players since then.
Unibet has received multiple awards during its years as a company. It received the award of best operator in sports betting in 2006, 2007 and 2009. It also received the award of best live betting operator in 2009 by eGaming Overview. In the IGA awards of 2014, the company would be granted the title of Sportsbook Operator of the Year. A few months after that they would also win the award for Best Poker Marketing Campaign.
Unibet would be ordered by the Danish Gambling Authority in 2022 to update its risk assessment strategies. The regulator deemed that Unibet did not have “sufficient written business procedures for ongoing monitoring of existing customer relations.” Multiple breaches were found upon further examination of Unibet’s AML policies.
Lottsift, a regulator of Norwegian based gaming operators, warned that it would sanction the Unibet subsidiary Trannel International Ltd 120.000 euros daily if they did not stop providing their unlicensed gambling activities in Norway. Operations continue to this day, despite these threats.
Shortly after the rebranding as Kindred Group Plc, the company acquired 32Red Plc, a Gibraltar licensed online gaming company founded in England in 2002. 32Red provides online services for blackjack, roulette, poker, bingo, and sports betting, with the games being provided by some of the industry’s leading software developers.
32Red advertises heavily to the football Premier League. They have sponsored multiple football clubs throughout their existence. So far, they have sponsored:
- Aston Villa,
- Swansea City,
- Crawley City,
- The Rangers Football Club
- Leeds United
- Middlesbrough Football Club,
- Derby county,
- Preston North End.
Aside from football, 32Red invests heavily in horse racing. They have sponsored the All Weather Championships of the Arena Racing Company since they first began in 2014. They also have sponsorship deals with Kempton Park Racecourse, and the Haydock Sprint Cup.
32Red had a major dispute with rival gambling company William Hill in 2010. 32Red objected to the use of the 32Vegas brand by William Hill. The English High Court of Justice held a six-day trial after which it was decided that the 32Vegas brand infringed on the 32Red trademark. William Hill would proceed to rename the brand to 21Nova, to avoid further confusion and legal proceedings.
Entain plc is an international sports betting and gambling company headquartered in the city of Douglas on the Isle of Man. It was founded in 2004 in Luxembourg under the name Gaming VC Holding, which was rebranded as GVC Holdings in 2010. The chairman is Barry Gibson, and the CEO is Jette Nygaard-Andersen. The company attains a yearly revenue of 3.8 million euros and employs 24.000 people worldwide.
The company was originally founded as Gaming VC Holdings in Luxembourg, before later Rebranding as GVC Holdings. It would rebrand itself again 10 years later as Entain. Entain would acquire many different companies over its lifespan. The first of these was Sportingbet in 2012. This acquisition was split between Entain and William Hill. William Hill acquired the rights to the Spanish and Australian markets, while Entain got the rights to the rest of the world.
Entain would acquire their next property in 2016 after a bidding war with 888 Holdings. This acquisition led to bwin.party Digital Entertainment being added to Entain’s portfolio after they paid 1.1 billion euros.
Entain would sign an agreement in 2017 to acquire Ladbrokes Coral in deal worth around 4 billion euros. This acquisition would be completed in March of 2018.
2018 did not go smoothly for the company. Internal reports showed that two executives at the company earned disproportionate salaries of around sixty-seven million euros a year. The current director was replaced after shareholders expressed their displeasure.
2019 saw the replacement of the chairman. UK governance code recommends chairs to stay in their position for no longer than nine years. Current chairman Barry Gibson took over upon the former chairman’s departure.
In July 2020, the UK tax authority HM Revenue and Customs announced that it was widening the scope of its investigation into “potential corporate offending” by an unspecified entity or entities within the GVC group related to the company’s former Turkish-facing online gambling business. This investigation may have been part of the reason the company announced it would change its name to Entain and that it would only operate in regulated markets from 2023. The decision was put to vote for the shareholders and finalized after the majority voted in favour of the name-change.
Entain received an offer from MGM Resorts in 2021. They offered to buy Entain after they valued the company at around eleven billion euros. Entain rejected this offer, as they were of the opinion that this severely undervalued the company. The offer was subsequently withdrawn. Entain would replace its CEO with their current CEO Jette Nygaard-Andersen that same year. This made her the first woman to become leader of a UK-listed gambling company
In February 2022, Entain announced it had acquired the Canadian sports betting operator Sports Interaction from Avid Gaming for £175 million.
5. 888 Holdings
888 Holdings plc, frequently also referred to as 888.com, is a publicly traded company that has several popular gambling brands and websites under its wing. The company is based in Gibraltar and was first founded in 1997 as Virtual Holdings Limited. The company has a revenue of around 980.1 million euros and employs around 1350 people in numerous locations around the globe.
The business was originally founded in 1997 by two sets of brothers: Aaron and Avi Shaked and Ron and Shay Ben-Yithzhak. The company was originally called Virtual Holdings Limited and started by launching the website Casino-on-Net. They expanded the enterprise in 2002, after establishing Reef Club Casino and Pacific Poker. They moved the admin centre to Gibraltar a year later. The company became available to the stock market in 2005.
Ladbrokes and 888 Holdings announced they were discussing a possible merger in 2006, but this did not go through due to changes in British tax law and fears or legal troubles with the government of the United States. Both parties went their separate ways amicably.
In 2007 888 Holdings would announce its acquisition of Globalcom Limited for up to 43.4 million euros. This company´s bingo business would go on to earn around fourteen million euros in the first six months alone.
888 Holdings took fourth place on the poker network list in 2012, after almost tripling their player numbers from 2010 to 2012. The company reported a possible takeover by William Hill in 2015, but this did not get finalized. The announce did have a positive effect for the company by itself, as it caused the share price to race by 18%.
888 Holdings announced it had applied for a gaming licence with the Malta Gaming Authority. There was uncertainty over the effects Brexit would have on Gibraltar, as it is still a British Territory.
2020 came with an unfortunate accident. One of the founders, Shay Ben-Yitzhak, lost his life while flying an ultralight plane near the city of Yakum in Israel. He was only 52 years old at the time
888 Holdings would acquire William Hill and all their assets in the United Kingdom in 2022. The goal of this acquisition was for 888 Holdings to expand their enterprise into retail sports betting. They would gain nearly 1500 betting shops from the merger.
888 Holdings share price took a heavy blow after they announced the British Gambling Commission was investigating them in 2017. This investigation led to 888 Holdings receiving a large fine of 7.8 million pounds. Reason for this fine was the fact that over seven thousand customers retained access to their betting accounts after they banned themselves. They were still allowed to bet using their accounts for more than a year before the fine was given.
The company would receive another fine of nearly ten million pounds by the gambling commission in 2022, after they concluded that 888 Holdings did not sufficiently prevent money laundering schemes and gambling addiction.