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Ladbrokes plc ( ) is a Britishmarker based gambling company. It is based in Rayners Lanemarker in Harrow, Londonmarker. From 14 May 1999 to 23 February 2006, when it owned the Hilton hotel brand outside the United Statesmarker, it was known as Hilton Group plc. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a member of the FTSE 250 Index, having been relegated from the FTSE 100 Index in June 2006.

History

The Company was founded by Messrs Schwind and Pendleton in 1886 as commission agents for horses trained at Ladbroke Hall in Worcestershire. The name Ladbrokes was adopted in 1902. In 1956 the Company was acquired by Cyril Stein and Max Parker.

In 1961 the Government legalised betting shops under the Betting and Gaming Act. Stein used profits from the traditional areas of the business to establish a chain of betting shops: he was the first to introduce fixed odds football betting. On the last Saturday of 1963 football results cost the Company over £1 million.

In 1967 Cyril Stein became chairman of Ladbrokes and floated the company on the London Stock Exchange.

The Company acquired Texas Homecare in 1986 and in 1995 sold it to J Sainsbury plcmarker who integrated it into its own Homebase chain.

In 1999 the Company acquired the Stakis Hotel chain and rebranded itself as Hilton Group plc. On 29 December 2005 the Company announced the sale of its the hotel operations to Hilton Hotels Corporation for £3.3bn and once more rebranded itself Ladbrokes plc.

Following the introduction of the Gambling Act 2005 in the United Kingdommarker and the subsequent relaxation of advertising laws for gambling companies in 2007, a TV campaign by Ladbrokes, that included a host of ex-professional footballers, was the first to result in complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA): however the ASA cleared the campaign.

Operations

Overall the largest betting company in the UK and largest retail bookmaker in the world, Ladbrokes owns over 2,200 retail betting shops divided between the UK, Irelandmarker, Italymarker and Belgiummarker. It also operates several online gambling websites offering sportsbook, poker, casino, games, bingo and backgammon. Ladbrokes uses the OpenBet system from Orbis Technology.

Ladbrokes formerly owned Vernons. Founded in 1925, until the intervention of the National Lottery, Vernons concentrated on Football pools. The company also owns and operates two greyhound stadia at Crayford and Monmore.

The company came under fire in January 2009 from the Advertising Standards Authority due to complaints received relating to a recent advertising campaign.

Chris Bell has worked for Ladbrokes since 1991 and became CEO in 2006.

On 19th November 2009 Ladbrokes PLC announced the propososal for closure of its Aintree call centre, where both its telebetting and Customer services operations are partially run from. The reason for this proposal being a drop in half year profits in its telebetting part of the business recording a 41% drop in returns in the first half of 2009, this is coupled by the fact theat bookmaker in Britain are now under increasing pressure to move offshore as they will avoid taxes and leveies imposed by the UK Horse Racing Authority . The company has entered a 90 day consultation period,and hopes to reduce staff rendundancies via relocations and redeployments of personel, 263 members of staff will be affected by the proposed closure which looks likely to take place in February 2010. http://www.ladbrokesplc.com/news/ladbrokes_proposes_closure_of_aintree_call_centre

Loyalty Card

Ladbrokes became the first betting firm to offer a loyalty scheme on 1 June 2008. Known as 'Odds ON!', the scheme rewards bets made with points and free bets. Initially customers got a point for every pound they spent at Ladbrokes; however in June 2009, the earn rate was cut to 1 point for every £2 spent. This has enabled Ladbrokes to target promotions specific to the betting patterns of the card holder.The Odds ON card can also be used online as well as in store.

Investors

From 2007 onwards Coolmore Stud billionaire John Magnier and his business partner racing tycoon JP McManus have quietly been building a stake in Ladbrokes estimated to be more than 10%. In early 2008 it was discovered that another associate of Magnier’s' Joe Lewis had been building a stake now estimated to be approximately 7%.

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