CMA Provisional Ruling Requires Sale of Ladbrokes Coral Betting Shops
The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has handed down a provisional ruling regarding a potential merger that requires UK betting giants, Ladbrokes and Gala Coral, to sell off a large number of their betting shops in order to maintain competition in local areas.
“We’ve provisionally found that the merger between two of the largest bookmakers in the country may be expected to reduce competition and choice for customers in a large number of local areas,” stated Martin Cave, who is chairing the CMA inquiry.
“Although online betting has grown substantially in recent years, the evidence we’ve seen confirms that a large number of customers still choose to bet in shops – and many would continue to do so after the merger.”
“For these customers, competition comes from the choice of shops in their local area and it’s they who could lose out from any reduction of competition and choice.”
Gala Coral operates 1,850 betting shops in the UK while Ladbrokes operates 2,154 betting shops in the UK and 77 in Northern Ireland. The CMA identified 659 local areas where loss of competition could occur due to the merger and stated that up to 400 betting shops would need to be sold to maintain competition in these areas.
“This is a significant step and our focus now will be on agreeing the shop disposals to satisfy the CMA,” stated Ladbrokes.
Gala Coral stated they would continue to work with the authority to meet the requirements for the merger.
The CMA plans to examine the exact number of shops that would need to be sold to a suitable purchaser. The final report from the CMA is expected by August 19, but may be ready as early as the end of July.
April 16, 2017