The company was founded by Messrs Schwind and Pendleton in1886 as commission agents for horses trained at Ladbroke Hall in Worcestershire. The name Ladbrokes was adopted in 1902 when one ArthurBendir joined the partnership and operations were moved to London.
Ladbrokes’ first London offices were situated in thevicinity of the Strand, later moving to Hanover Square in 1906 and, in 1913, the firmgraduated to Six Old Burlington Street, Mayfair.
During this time and until the acquisition of the firm byMark Stein (aka Max Parker) and his nephew, Cyril Stein in 1956, Ladbrokes’clientele was exclusively drawn from the ranks of the British aristocracy and upper classes, many of whom were members of the elite gentlemen's clubs in the St James's area of Central London.
Unusual for the times, Ladbrokes’ principal long-time representative on British racecourses was a woman, Mrs Helen Vernet. Having joined thefirm at behest of Arthur Bendir in 1919, she was made a partner in 1928 and remained with the firm until shortly before her death in 1956, at the age of80.
Following the end of WorldWar II the fortunes of Ladbrokeswere in steady decline, brought about by a combination of an austere after-war economic climate, a dwindling client base and reluctance to change the firm'sspecialised approach to bookmaking. As a result, in 1956 the Company was acquired by Mark Stein and his then 28 year-old nephew, Cyril Stein for a reported £100,000.
In 1961 the government legalised betting shops under the Betting and Gaming Act. As managing director, Stein used profits from thetraditional 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 of1963 football results cost the Company over £1 million.
In 1966 CyrilStein became chairman of Ladbrokes and the following year floated the company on the London StockExchange at an initial valuation of £1 million. Under his chairmanship, thecompany acquired Texas Homecare in 1986 and in 1995 sold it to J Sainsbury plc who integrated it into its own Homebase chain. In 1989 Ladbrokes also acquired Vernons Football Pools.In 1993, at the age of 65, Cyril Stein retired as chairman – at which time Ladbrokeswas valued at near £2 billion on the London Stock Exchange.
In 1999 the company acquired the Stakis Hotel chain andrebranded itself as Hilton Group plc. On 29 December 2005 the company announced the sale of its hoteloperations to Hilton Hotels Corporation for £3.3bn and once more rebrandeditself Ladbrokes plc.
Following the introduction of the Gambling Act 2005 in the United Kingdom and the subsequent relaxation of advertising laws for gambling companies in 2007, a TVcampaign by Ladbrokes, that included a host of ex-professional footballers, wasthe first to result in complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA); theASA cleared the campaign.In the same year, the Vernons brand was sold to SportTech.
The company came under fire in January 2009 from the Advertising Standards Authority due to complaints received relating to a recentadvertising campaign.
In November 2009 the company announced it would close its call centre at Aintree with the loss of 263 jobs.InJanuary 2012 the Ladbrokes affiliate program introduced a new commission model based on the number of new customers sent every month, valid as from 1 February2012.