Gambling operators often run multiple brands for a variety of reasons:
- Market Segmentation: Different brands can target different segments of the market. For example, one brand might cater to high-stakes gamblers, while another might focus on casual players.
- Brand Diversification: Having multiple brands allows a company to diversify its risk. If one brand faces issues or loses popularity, the other brands can continue to generate revenue.
- Derisking: If one of your many brands gets a bad reputation, your other brands remain competitive and protected.
- Competitive Advantage: Multiple brands can help a company occupy more "shelf space" in the market, making it harder for competitors to gain market share.
- Customer Retention: If customers become dissatisfied with one brand, they might switch to another brand within the same company rather than going to a competitor.
- Regulatory Reasons: In some jurisdictions, a company might be limited in the number of licenses it can hold under a single brand.
Background On Multiple Brands Operating Under a Single Operator
The gambling industry is a dynamic and rapidly evolving sector, with various operators offering diverse products and services. It's common for a single gambling operator to run multiple brands. As outlined in a UKGC report, this strategy allows operators to cater to different market segments, diversify risk, gain a competitive advantage, and retain customers. In 2021, there were over 2,000 gambling operators licensed to provide gambling activities in Great Britain, covering both land-based and online activities.
Mega Mergers and Acquisitions in the Gambling Sector
The gambling industry has recently witnessed a trend towards mega mergers and acquisitions. This is partly driven by the desire to achieve economies of scale, offset rising costs, and explore new growth avenues in an increasingly competitive market. Notable deals include the £2.3bn tie-up between Ladbrokes and Gala Coral, the £6bn merger of Betfair and Paddy Power, and GVC's £1.1bn acquisition of Bwin.party.
Evolution of the Gambling Industry Towards Conglomerates
Historically, the gambling industry has evolved from small-scale gaming sites in local communities to a global industry and an increasingly standardized pastime worldwide. The growth started in the early 20th century and accelerated in the past few decades. This expansion has led to the emergence of conglomerates in the gambling industry, with multiple brands operating under a single corporate entity.
Recent Industry Shifts and Market Expansion
The lifting of the federal ban on sports betting in the US in 2018 by the Supreme Court has led to significant market expansion. This ruling has opened up new opportunities for bettors and operators, providing a much-needed boost to state economies. The sports gambling gold rush has come at a high cost, with a record 50.4 million US adults expected to bet on games like the Super Bowl. The booming sports betting industry, lawmakers, and even the professional sports leagues make betting easier, faster, and more tempting for people to bet on games.
In conclusion, the gambling industry is a complex and dynamic sector that continues to evolve and adapt to changing market conditions and regulatory environments. The trend towards multiple brands under single operators, mega mergers and acquisitions, and the evolution towards conglomerates indicate the industry's resilience and adaptability. The recent lifting of the federal ban on sports betting in the US represents a significant shift in the industry, opening up new opportunities for growth and expansion.
Strategic Advantages of a Multi-Brand Approach
Market Domination and Brand Awareness
Operating multiple brands allows gambling operators to cover a broader range of market segments, enhancing their overall market presence. In fact, browse any review site that lists online casinos by owner. You will see that often, a single operator will run a dozen of platforms and brands each targeting a very different segment of the gambling population.
For instance, Flutter Entertainment, which owns brands like Paddy Power and Betfair, leverages its diverse brand portfolio to dominate various niches in the gambling industry, from sports betting to online casinos.
Catering to Diverse Consumer Preferences
Different brands can cater to varying consumer tastes and preferences under the same operator. This approach enables operators to target specific gambling market segments, from casual players who prefer user-friendly platforms to high rollers seeking premium experiences. For instance, an operator might have one brand focusing on sports betting for the passionate sports fan. In contrast, another brand under their umbrella offers a sophisticated casino experience aimed at seasoned players. This strategy broadens the operator's market reach and allows for tailored marketing approaches, increasing the effectiveness of promotional efforts and enhancing customer satisfaction.
Certain brands in the gambling industry may have a greater emphasis on appealing to female players or providing a wider variety of Bingo games compared to their offerings for sports betting markets. It is worth noting that these brands may have a different marketing strategy and target demographic compared to other brands in the industry.
The Kindred Group, with brands like 32 Red and Unibet, offers distinct experiences tailored to specific customer groups, from casual gamblers to more severe bettors.
Risk Distribution and Reputation Management
A multi-brand strategy helps isolate the reputations of different brands, thereby diversifying risk. For example, if one brand faces a reputational issue, it is less likely to impact the operator's other brands. This separation ensures that a crisis in one area doesn't necessarily tarnish the entire portfolio, maintaining consumer trust in other brands. Additionally, this approach allows operators to experiment with different market strategies across brands, learning from successes and failures in a controlled environment without jeopardizing the overall business.
GVC Holdings (now Entain), with a portfolio including Ladbrokes and Coral, effectively manages its reputation across different brands, ensuring that a crisis in one does not spill over to the others.
Economic and Business Rationales
Acquisition and Integration of Competitors
Gambling operators often acquire competitors and retain their distinct brands to consolidate market share and expand their reach. For example, Evolution Gaming's acquisition of NetEnt allowed them to maintain NetEnt's strong brand identity while integrating its technological capabilities and customer base into their broader strategy.
Financial Synergies and Resource Allocation
Managing multiple brands can offer economic benefits such as cost savings through shared resources and increased revenue streams. However, it also presents challenges like the need for distinct marketing strategies and operational structures for each brand. An instance of this is Betsson Group, which operates multiple brands and benefits from shared technology and centralized services while maintaining unique marketing for each brand.
Shift to Digital Platforms
The transition to online gambling has forced operators to adapt their brand strategies. Traditional operators with multiple brands, such as 888 and William Hill, are now emphasizing their online offerings to stay competitive in a market that increasingly favors digital platforms.
Competition with Digital-Only Brands
For multi-brand operators, competing in the digital space, particularly against digital-only brands, requires a fine balance. These operators need to leverage advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and data analytics to understand customer behavior and preferences, tailoring their offerings accordingly. Additionally, integrating innovative features such as live betting and mobile-first platforms can be crucial in staying competitive in an increasingly digital gambling landscape.
Brands under the umbrella of companies like GVC Holdings have to differentiate themselves from each other and digital-native brands that may have a more agile approach to online gambling.
This article was published on December 8, 2023, and last updated on December 7, 2023.