Coral, as part of the Gala Coral Group, is one of the largest betting networks in Europe, with a significant presence in both the UK and Italy (coincidentally two of the continent’s most prominent gambling regions). A conservative estimate puts their UK market share somewhere around the 20% mark.
While most of the ‘back room’ activities are now coordinated in Gibraltar, parts of Coral’s operation are undertaken in Stratford, London, and with nearly 1800 licensed betting shops in the UK we’re happy to call them a domestic bookmaker.
Coral offer all of the services you would expect from a hybrid sportsbook operating both online and on the high street, although they were the originator of the ‘single shared wallet’ platform – called Coral Connect in this case – which enables customers to bet online but collect their winnings in real cash from a high street shop. As you can imagine, this proved popular!
Odds & Markets
Quality of odds is, naturally, one of the key components when selecting a bookmaker, and happily Coral come up with the goods in this department – although be warned, it’s not true across the sporting spectrum.
We ran an experiment across two key sports in the betting portfolio, horse racing and football, and investigated two key markets within these; 10 typical fixtures across a single week in the English Premier League and a big meeting at Aintree. The results were mixed.
Of the four races we looked at as part of the Aintree meeting, Coral were noticeably amongst the leading bookmakers. For the favourites they were often the best price or if not they were certainly among the best, although they were left behind by some of the competition when pricing up the outsiders.
We then took the ten Premier League fixtures and compared prices for all 20 teams involved against the odds set by other mainstream UK bookmakers. Coral were best price – or equal to it – for just two of the teams. That’s a rather paltry 10%.
The good news is that Coral covers all of the key markets and many more to boot. In fact, for your standard top flight football match there are some 138 markets to explore, and these include some rare beasts including Man of the Match (for televised matches), Wincast and Scorecast. Alas, a mark is lost for the absence of Asian handicaps.
But there is a good diversity here and extensive coverage; even the darkest corners of the globe are covered across football, tennis, basketball and cricket.
It’s a busy old bee, is the Coral website, but once the initial feeling of ‘holy moly where is everything?’ wears off you’ll actually be left with a sense of ‘hmm, what was I so confused about’. It’s much cleaner than it used to be, there are just a lot of menu options.
Like many of their competitors, Coral have opted for the ‘thirds’ layout to their site – or at least a version of it. So if you fire up their homepage you’ll note that it is split vertically into three distinct sections. On the left-hand side is the key to navigation; an A-Z of available sports plus quick links to all of the most popular options in a menu bar above. In the centre of the page is the live platform plus promotions and enhanced odds for the day. This is the biggest section with links to in-plays, next races, action starting soon etc. On the right-hand side is the betslip, plus anything you have ‘favourited’. When you get used to this, everything becomes so much clearer.
The site is nice and fast with minimal page loading woes (depending on the strength of your internet connection of course), and there’s even minimal lagging experienced in the in-play zone too. The live streaming service is as smooth as silk.
If you prefer to place your bets via a smartphone or tablet then you have two options: Coral have rescaled their main website for mobile browsers so you can access a sort of miniature version that works nicely and is well designed. Alternatively, you could always download the Coral app which bears many of the same hallmarks; in fact, it’s almost identical.
Any good bookmaker worth its salt is judged on the quality and quantity of features that it provides to players. Coral is well-stacked in this department, and here are some of the highlights:
- In-Play Betting – A veritable smorgasbord of in-play markets await you at Coral. Get involved in some Algerian Division 2 football as you wait for your ITF Futures tennis bet to come in. Basketball, ice hockey, volleyball and even water polo; if you can wager on it, you can probably bet live on it too with Coral.
- Live Streaming – More than 2,000 events each week are available for streaming via the Coral website: there’s top football from across Europe courtesy of La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and Eredivisie, action from the ATP and WTA tennis tours, UK & Ireland horse racing and tons more besides.
- Rapid Fire Markets – These are a pretty cool innovation that remain fairly unique in the industry. These markets are exclusive to in-play punters, and offer quick-as-a-whip enhancements on key selections as an event is unfolding. Be quick though: when they’re gone, they’re gone.
- Cash Out – Most of the larger markets are covered by this magnificent feature, and you will notice on your betslip if the orange ‘Cash Out’ button is present. If you’re lucky it might be joined by its blue sibling ‘Partial Cash Out’, which enables you to take some of the money away with you and leave the rest to play out as God intended.
- Coral Connect – We’ve touched upon this already, but it bears repeating. Bet online and pick up your winnings from a Coral shop. You know, as in real cash in your hands.
Banking, Payouts & Limits
It’s easy to deposit/withdraw funds into and out of your online account courtesy of Coral, and as you might expect all transactions are covered by the most stringent encryption technologies available.
We can split the payment methods that Coral accept into four broad categories: cards (both Visa and MasterCard debit cards are accepted), e-wallet systems (PayPal, Skrill, Neteller and ecopayz), voucher payments (paysafecard) and cold, hard cash (Coral Connect).
The minimum deposit required to get stuck in at Coral is £5 (£10 for Payapl).
The minimum stake amount for single bets is £0.01, although this will change depending on the bet you are trying to make. Still, you can’t get more accessible than a penny.
While we couldn’t find a maximum stake amount within Coral’s terms & conditions or indeed lurking anywhere else in the dusty corners of their website, do note the Payout Limit below and factor this into your staking plan.
The maximum return that Coral will payout is £1,000,000 for UK & Ireland horse racing covered by Coral TV, as it is for ‘Grade One’ football (English leagues, Bundesliga, La Liga etc). If this ever becomes an issue with your betting then fair play to you.
If we were comparing UK bookmakers to Hollywood movies (and there’s barely a day goes by when we don’t) then we’ll call Coral – owned by GVC Holdings – Predator.
Why? Well, they have a wonderful habit of taking out their competition, consuming them whole and then masticating them into an arm of the business that becomes an integral part of the brand. So, for example, Coral merged with Gala (who run a world-famous bingo division, amongst other things) to become the Gala Coral Group. From there they merged with Eurobet and – latterly – Ladbrokes.
Today, Coral are the third largest retail bookmaking business in the UK, and they are cutting into the online market courtesy of their rigorous TV advertising campaign on match days.
They have moved much of their operation to tax haven Gibraltar, although a significant UK presence is still observed courtesy of their offices in Nottingham, Stratford and Woking.
It’s all a long way from Coral’s humble beginnings way back in 1926, when Joe Coral borrowed some money off his local cafe owner to start up his own betting firm at the nearby greyhound track at Harringay. Joe opened his first licensed premises in 1961 – one of the first to take advantage of the relaxed legislation of the time. To this day, they remain one of the few bookmakers with outlets in both Gatwick and Stansted Airport (in amongst their 1700 or so others).
Coral were the official betting partner of Norwich City FC for three years and sponsor a full racing card at Leopardstown each January, with the Coral.ie Hurdle being the clear standout. They have been rewarded for their excellence in the bookmaking field too, scooping the prestigious Operator of the Year and Best Social Media Campaign gongs at the EGR Awards in 2015, plus the less catchy but arguably more important Socially Responsible Operator of the Year trophy at the Gaming Intelligence Awards in 2016.
As you’d expect from a frontline bookmaker like Coral, it is a piece of cake to access support should you need it. You can contact their customer support team in the following ways:
- Phone – (Online Account Assistance) 0800 44 00 11
- Phone – (Shop-Based Customer Support) 0800 169 0299
- Post – Gala Coral Group, New Castle House, Castle Boulevard, Nottingham, NG7 1FT
- Email – email@example.com
- Fax – 0115 851 7536