Online gambling has been one of the world’s top growth industries over recent years. With the coronavirus pandemic resulting in bricks and mortar casinos having to close their doors – at least temporarily – it led to more and more people playing top casino games online instead.
Gambling companies have been launching a variety of new online betting sites and online casinos in order to meet the demand, but players might not realise that a lot of the brands out there are actually sister sites as they are a part of the same major umbrella organisation.
Here are the five biggest online gambling companies in Europe at the present time.
1. Flutter Entertainment
Global sports betting, gaming and entertainment company Flutter was created a few years ago as a result of the blockbuster merger between two gambling giants: Betfair and Paddy Power. Headquartered in Ireland’s capital city Dublin, Flutter reported full-year revenues of a whopping £6,036.2 million in its latest financial figures, with rapid growth continuing in recent months.
A merger with The Stars Group has helped Flutter Entertainment become established as one of the biggest gambling companies in the world, not just in Europe. That deal went through in 2020, with an all-stock transaction valued at $6 billion in total – one of the sector’s top moves.
Flutter Entertainment runs betting brands such as FanDuel – a leading operator in the growing area of daily fantasy sports betting – as well as Adjarabet, TVG and Junglee Games. Sky Bet, Sky Vegas, Sky Bingo, Sky Casino and Sky Poker are all a part of Flutter now as well, along with Sportsbet which the firm says is the market leader in the Australian online wagering market.
One of the top success stories in the world of online gambling, Bet365 is a British betting brand that was founded some 22 years ago by Denise Coates, who remains the company’s CEO. The Coates family were already involved in sports betting but she spotted that the rise of the internet was going to open up new opportunities, which Bet365 has certainly maximised over the years.
Bet365 posted £2.981 billion of revenues in its most recently released financial results, showing the vast amount of money that flows through this online gambling company, one of Europe’s biggest and best. Bet365 retains very close links to its roots in England, with the company sponsoring both the shirts and stadium of Stoke City, who play in the country’s Championship.
While Bet365 is still focused on the European market, the company has been aiming to branch out over the past few years. The legalising of online betting in the United States has created opportunities for firms like Bet365, which has also made moves in Canada and Argentina.
3. Kindred Group
Many of the largest online gambling companies in Europe have grown into giants as a result of a series of mergers, with Kindred Group having followed a similar expansion formula to Flutter.
Kindred Group, which was founded by Anders Strom in 1997, is now a publicly listed company on the Stockholm Stock Exchange with its top brands including Unibet, Maria Casino and 32Red, while a partnership with the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City saw it move into the newly deregulated online sports betting market in the United States in recent years as well.
Boasting well over 2,000 employees around the world, Kindred Group is currently trying to build its proprietary Kindred Racing Platform into a full sportsbook platform, which is its future. Bingo.com, Finnish online casinos Kolikkopelit and Casinohuone, Highroller and Romanian site Vlad Cazino are among the many different betting brands that run under the Kindred banner.
Previously known as GVC Holdings, Entain is certainly right up there with the biggest online gambling companies in Europe, with its shares now listed on the London Stock Exchange. Entain recorded rising revenues of €3,830.0 million in 2021, with its most famous betting brands including the likes of bwin, Coral, Ladbrokes, PartyPoker, Gala, Foxy Bingo and Sportingbet.
Entain continues to target takeovers as a way to build the company up further. In August 2021, it was announced by the company that it had acquired the US-based esports betting company Unikrn for £50 million. Chief executive at Entain Jette Nygaard-Andersen explained that the decision to buy Unikrn was as the company is “really thinking about changing consumer behaviour” at the moment.
Although Entain has its headquarters in Douglas on the Isle of Man – now a hotbed for the online gambling industry – its brands are licensed and operate in more than 20 countries around the world.
5. 888 Holdings
Jostling for position in the list of the biggest online gambling companies in Europe is 888 Holdings, a well-respected gaming firm whose deep roots in the industry can be traced back around 25 years. At Gibraltar-based 888 Holdings, which includes betting brands like 888sport, 888casino and 888poker, impressive revenues of $980.1 million were posted in its latest full-year financial results for 2021.
The 888 Holdings company was created by Avi and Aaron Shaked and Shay and Ron Ben-Yitzhak – two sets of Israeli brothers – with Casino-on-Net being its first site, closely followed by Reef Club Casino and Pacific Poker. The decision to focus more closely on the 888 brand was made in 2006.
As if 888 Holdings was not already large enough to boast a place in the list of Europe’s biggest online gambling companies, it was recently announced that the firm it set to acquire the non-US assets of international bookmakers William Hill in a deal said to be worth in the region of £2 billion. That deal comes after the £2.9 billion acquisition of William Hill by Caesars Entertainment in 2021.