Gala Coral History
The Gala Coral gambling group has changed hands numerous times over the years, but the company's history dates back to 1926. It all began with Joseph Kagarlitski who was born in Poland and then migrated to the UK where he changed his name to Joe Coral.
Joe started taking his first bets in 1926 as a bookmaker who specialized in the local horseracing scene. He stuck with smalltime bookmaking until UK law changed and legalized actual betting shops in 1961. He opened his first shop in 1961, effectively establishing the Coral Group.
The first shop was successful and Coral quickly expanded. By 1962, Coral owned 23 betting shops throughout the UK. The company saw a decade and a half of rapid expansion and by 1977, the Coral Group operated hundreds of betting shops. Coral continued to grow from this point as it expanded into bingo shops, casinos, hotels, and leisure clubs.
In 1981, the Coral Group was acquired by Bass plc. Coral was integrated into Bass' existing betting shops, but retained the Coral name. Under Bass management, the Coral Group acquired a number of other betting chains and continued to grow.
Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, the Coral Group changed hands several times. The group eventually merged with Gala and formed what we now know as Gala Coral. All through this time, Coral and later Gala Coral continued to acquire other betting shop chains and bingo parlors throughout the UK.
These various mergers and acquisitions helped propel Gala Coral to its current status as one of the largest bookmakers in the UK. The company now operates 1800 betting shops in the UK, 25 brick-and-mortar casinos, and more than 300 betting shops in Italy.
Gala Coral Website
Gala Coral had a bit of an identity crises during the early years of its online business. The company managed a number of websites (Gala and Coral Eurobet), but didn't have a single brand identity. They finally fixed that in 2011 when they formed Gala Interactive to serve as the company's online branch.
Gala Interactive merged its various online presences into a few major gambling sites. They now operate the following websites:
- Eurobet.it (Italian gambling site)
Today, Gala Coral employs more than 16,000 people in its betting shops and offices around the world. The brand now has three distinct branches. Gala Interactive runs the aforementioned gambling sites, Gala Gaming manages the company's brick-and-mortar casinos/bingo shops, and Gala Retail manages the UK and Italian betting shops.
Gala Coral remains a private company to this day, but they have hinted at going public at some point over the next few years. Although not yet public, Coral does release public financial statements and they are doing very well. Last year, all operations brought in more than £200 million in gross profits.
Gala Coral has an active charity division that works with local groups to raise money and donate time to positive causes. Employees routinely participate in local projects while Gala Coral itself often pledges money to other charitable organizations.
For the last few years, Gala Coral employees have voted to make Sue Ryder Care one of their primary donation targets. They raise at least £1,000,000 every year through direct donations and fundraiser efforts such as races and climbs. In 2009, Gala employees climbed to Everest Base Camp to play the world's highest ever bingo game and raised £1.5 million for their efforts.
Author: Wesley Burns
Updated: March 2015