There are only a few names that are associated with sports betting and the gambling business that remain on the UK high streets today, but one name which is certain to be a king is Coral.

The company was barely founded until 1920, and by 2020 Coral was one of the fastest recognized brands in the world. How exactly did the name and the famous white on blue logo come to be so well-known?

Similar to many companies in the gambling industry – and in many other areas of business – Coral started out on a much smaller scale. In the case of Coral, the origins and subsequent growth of the company can be traced back to one person; Joseph Kagarlitsky… but more about him later.

The scale of the business isn’t the only thing that has changed over this time. The nature of the company’s operations has also changed significantly over the years. The days of arduous credit betting and seedy backstreet operations, with Coral now being among the most modern and respected names in the betting industry. If it’s sports betting bingo, sports betting, or any other action that gets your betting blood flowing Coral can be counted on for top-quality products and excellent service.

Because of the initiative of one Polish immigrant way back in the early 20th Century, Coral has enjoyed a century of growth. And this article chronicles the growth that was taken by one of the most prominent players in the game of gambling.

1926: Established By Joe Coral

We start with the late Mr Joseph Kagarlitski, born in Warsaw in 1904; however, the man claimed to be as a Russian since his father came born in Kiev (presumably from Russian descent). He was a Jewish immigrants to UK, Joseph was a Jewish immigrant to UK, Joseph changed his name to that of a snappier Joe Coral (he could probably have been a funk-drummer!) as he believed this would aid in his search of employment. Why Coral? It has no significance it appears, with the decision allegedly due because his mother was reading a book titled Coral Island at the time.

Young Joe did not enjoy going to school, often playing in truant until he left at the age of 14, although that was not uncommon in the days before. In the beginning, he was employed at both a lamp making and an advertising firm Joe’s love of math and passion for gambling led him to a new route.

In his first step into the bookies’ industry as a bookie’s runners, it didn’t take that long after Joe Coral began taking bets himself. Initially , he found a lot of custom around the local billiard clubs, he soon began operating his own pitches within the Harringay and White City greyhound tracks – later expanding to Clapton and Walthamstow.

The greyhound pitches as well as the running of the speedway in Harringay and Harringay, were the official part of Joe’s business. However, the murky and illegal – market of street betting appears to have been the majority of Coral’s operations in the early days. In 1930, Joe was said to have employed up to 80 agents to collect bets on his behalf.

A combination of of the above led to Joe Coral becoming known as one of the most important regional bookmakers in the United States towards the end of the 1930’s.

1941: Opened a Credit Office in Stoke Newington

With the growing pace in trade, Coral was going to require a central location for operations. The company’s first offices that were mostly concerned with its credit betting operations, were based within Stoke Newington in north London. By the end of the First World War though these had been moved to London’s West End.

1945: Advertising begins in The National Sporting Papers

Already having some experience in the advertising business, Joe Coral wasn’t about to miss out on the opportunity to grow the brand name of his business and attract new customers with press advertisements.

It was legal to promote the service of postal credit betting that the company offered in publications such as The Sporting Chronicle and the Sporting Life in this period since no money changed hands in postal betting there was only cheques and postal orders.

1961: Opens first LBO

1960 was by far the biggest event in the history of gambling in Britain in the early days and possibly even still today. In 1960 in 1960 that the Betting and Gaming Act was approved. The most important aspect of this law was the legalization of off-course cash betting.

Initially, he was opposed to the new legislation due to concerns about the type of customer it could draw, Joe Coral seemingly didn’t have to wait long to get over these concerns and change his opinion, and he opened his first high-street gambling shop in 1961, and by the year 1962, there were 23 establishments under Coral’s umbrella. Coral umbrella.

1963: The PLC becomes A

With the high street gambling shop portion of the company currently experiencing massive growth The decision was made to establish Coral as a public limited corporation.

At around this time the company was also beginning to broaden its wings with regards to branching out into other sectors such as bingo halls, casino, and hotel markets.

1971: Joins With the Bookmaker Mark Lane

The company further strengthened its place within the British betting industry through the acquisition of Mark Lane bookmakers. The new company kept the more snazzy Coral name but this merger/takeover could be a sign of things to come.

1973: The Sponsorship of the Welsh Grand National For The First Time

Coral has long been a patron of the product that has proved to be an essential factor to its growth as a company. British horse racing was an enormous portion of the company’s revenue, particularly in the beginning, and the company also sponsored numerous races throughout the year, both on the flat and over jumps.

The longest-running of these agreements – and actually the longest-running sponsorship agreement in all of sport – is the firm’s association with Chepstow’s Welsh Grand National, which initially offered support to in 1973.

1979: Currently referred to as”the Coral Leisure Group

The estate of betting shops continued to grow – reaching around 650 shops by 1979 Then Coral continued to demonstrate an impressive determination to dip its toe into other markets. Apart from bingo halls, casinos and hotels as well as hotels, the Coral umbrella also included property, squash, and Pontins holidays camps.

To reflect this diverse portfolio, the decision was taken to change the name of the company and change it to Coral Leisure Group.

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1981: Acquired from Bass Plc.

1981 saw the growing company become the focus of one of Britain’s biggest and longest-running breweries, which was Bass Plc stepping in to acquire Coral in exchange for a largely unpublicized amount. Although the company is now completely under the control of Bass’s management The new owners decided to keep the recognizable Coral brand in place. Bass may have been world’s oldest trademark but they knew the Coral name was the right one for betting.

1991: Capture of the Tote

The tote placepot and the jackpot have for a long time been among the most well-known kinds of bets on horse racing in the UK However, previously, they only been available either on track or in a Tote-owned betting shop. Recognising that it was failing to cash in on the popularity of these bets in 1992, Coral come to an agreement with Tote allowing the older firm to make Tote products available in their betting shops.

1998: Sold To Ladbrokes …Briefly

The next takeover in the Coral chronology was almost in 1998, when the betting giant Ladbrokes purchased the company at an eye-catching PS363m. The initial amalgamation of the two companies proved to be an event that was short-lived, however.

In violation of the monopolies and mergers commission, the new owners were made to sell Coral within a matter of days. Ladbrokes kept 59 of its stores within Ireland and Jersey however the remainder of the business was sold to Morgan Grenfell Private Equity for PS390million in 1999.

1999: Eurobet buys Eurobet

Looking to increase its presence in the online world, Coral opted to purchase the Gibraltar-based Eurobet for PS7.1m in the early part of the century. The purchase was based on the combination of the bookmaking expertise of Coral and Eurobet’s established product, which specialised in football bettingand was deemed to be an ideal fit.

2000 Changes its name to Coral Eurobet

In celebration of its recent acquisition, the company changed its name to Coral Eurobet in May 2000.

2002: Sold to Management Buyout

Yet another takeover came just two years late in September 2002. In this case, it was a management buyout type, the hands of Charterhouse Development Capital.

2005: Purchased By Gala

2005 witnessed the largest deal to be taken over, with the PS2.18bn that was paid to Gala providing a clear indication as to just how much the company had grown since its inception in the late 1990s and also how far the industry was developing.

Gala Coral is already a major player in the bricks and mortar bingo and casino markets, this was a logical move for Gala and has created the newly-named Gala Coral Group as the UK’s largest bingo operator, and the third largest bookmaker.

The Eurobet division of the business was also kept running as a separate entity from the Coral operation. Coral operation.

2007. Sponsors Scottish Grand National For The First Time

Already in a long-running arrangement in conjunction with Britain’s most prestigious steeplechases, the Welsh Grand National, 2007 saw Coral join in the support of Ayr’s Scottish version for the first time.

2009: Coral TV Established

2009 saw a major change in the production of Coral’s media The company has relocated its broadcasting operations to a brand new, purpose-built studio in Milton Keynes in order to support the launch of Coral TV, a new media service that will be broadcast across the firm’s betting shop estate and on the internet.

The year 2010 was a great one. Coral Dugout Launched

Coral expanded its reach to further advance the coverage of Football World Cup, with the latest edition of the “Coral Dugout”. In bringing in famous names such the likes of Jeff Stelling and Graham Poll as well as other big names, the company set out to expand its coverage ahead of one of the biggest betting on sports events on the globe.

2011: Buys New Offices and Launches Gala Interactive

The practice of enhancing the facility of the company was continued in 2011 as it was reported that the Gala Coral group shelled out the staggering sum of PS1.45billion for the purchase of 30793 square feet of newly constructed workplace space within Stratford City.

This year also witnessed a change in approach to the online service offered by the company. Having previously operated a slightly scatter-gunned approach, the launch of Gala Interactive as the company’s online division saw the offering streamlined into three separate websites: Coral, Gala Bingo, and Gala Casino – in addition to the Italian-market-focussed Eurobet.it.

2012: Sells Off Casinos To Rank

2012 saw the company sever off its casino on land, with its 23 properties sold up to Rank for PS205million according to the report to the BBC at the time.

2015. Coral Connect Card Launched

With product integration becoming one of the main focusses of the betting sector – due to the huge increase in online betting – Coral was one of the first to initiate an effort to link its products when it launched its Coral Connect Card. It allowed customers to gamble in a store through their internet and/or phone accounts.

Providing a single wallet solution that allowed customers to withdraw money from, as well as deposits to their online account at shops, as well as offering a useful betting tracking app, as well as a range of special offers and perks.

2015: Bingo Clubs Sold

Following the sale of the land-based casino branch of the business Further streamlining took place through the sale of 130 Gala Bingo clubs the business was then owned by Caledonia Investments for PS241m.

2016: Acquired by Ladbrokes …Again

If at first you don’t succeed! Eight years after first falling under the ownership of Ladbrokes but only briefly, two of the giants of the British betting game finally joined forces proper in the year 2016. It was crucial that the firms adhered to the advice of the mergers and monopolies commission before completing the deal which involved the sale of in the vicinity of 400 stores, most of which went towards Betfred as well as Stan James.

With all legal boxes completed, the transaction was signed on 2 November 2016 with the new company operating under as Ladbrokes Coral Plc. Although it’s now a single entity from an Plc perspective but the company has made the decision to keep Ladbrokes and Coral as separate businesses from a customer perspective as they both had enough brands to thrive.

2017: GVC buys Ladbrokes Coral

There’s a sense that we’re never far from a takeover of some type in March, 2018 saw the newly formed Ladbrokes Coral Group taken over by the betting and gaming giant GVC Holdings, in a deal estimated to cost more than PS4bn.

More details on the recent takeover can be found at the corporate GVC website. Already holding the likes of bwin, Sportingbet and partypoker, GVC Holdings are now undoubtedly one of the biggest players in the world betting market, though further consolidation shouldn’t be excluded in the near-term.