The world’s view of gambling has very much changed over the last ten years, with your ‘average’ gambler more likely to be sat at a PC than walking to their local bookmaker to put a bet on. As online security gets tighter and customers start trusting sites with their credit card details the numbers of those joining the sites as opposed to visiting stores increases. Indeed the ‘fair-weather’ gambler who may have at one time only had a bet on the Grand National once a year now has the opportunity to put bets on for fun whenever they want to without the stigma of visiting a bookmaker which they may feel uncomfortable doing.
This article will investigate whether an established company such as Ladbrokes needs to offer introductory offers to entice new customers, or whether they can get away with offering smaller free bets and survive in a congested market by reputation alone.
Overall the largest betting company in the UK and largest retail bookmaker in the world is Ladbrokes who own over 2,400 retail betting shops divided between the UK and chess betting sites Ireland, with more shops in Spain and Belgium. It is one of the FTSE 250 listed companies and is over 125 years old – indeed after the war they were the first betting company to allow for fixed-odds football betting; a strategy that backfired when they lost £1 million on one day in 1963 due to a particularly predictable run of results in the First Division!
When I first got interested in online gambling I thought it strange that the free Ladbrokes bet was just £10 as a matched offer. With recently formed bookmakers offering introductory bets of upwards of £200 at times, and a £50 free bet seeming to be the average for new customers, I wondered whether this was a mistake.
However, looking at the site it obviously prides itself as being one of the more established bookmakers, with markets available on all sports, and many markets being available in-play during the events. The site also has links to other gambling games for those who wish to play on casino or poker games for a bit of fun. The branding for the company is also prominent throughout the site, with the unmistakable red background and white lettering being as bright as the signage that adorns their shop fronts.
In 2008 Ladbrokes became the first betting firm to offer customers a loyalty scheme which rewarded punters with free bets via points gained. When launched as ‘Odds On’ customers got a point for every £1 spent although this has now been reduced to 1 point for every £2. As a marketing scheme this has allowed Ladbrokes to specifically target promotions specific to the betting patterns of the card holder. The loyalty card can only be used in store.
And maybe that’s the key; Ladbrokes see their stores as their company flagship – one of those companies that will be diverse enough to have interests both online and on the high street but see their betting shop strategy and overall history as something they want to keep intact. And to be honest that’s something we should be encouraging these days.