SportingBet is an online gambling site that offers sports betting, casino, and poker to its customers. It was one of the early pioneers in online gambling and has been around since 1998. It was previously listed on the London Stock Exchange, before its assets were jointly purchased by William Hill and GVC Holdings in 2012.
Mark Blandford is the founder of SportingBet founder, although he’s no longer involved with the business. On this page we have provided a brief bio of Mark Blandford, including information on how he created SportingBet.
Blandford was born and raised in Hereford in the United Kingdom in 1957. He went on to study at Wolverhampton Polytechnic, where he earned his degree specializing in international marketing. Subsequently he worked in a number of industries, including local radio and food marketing, before getting involved in the gambling industry.
From the early 1980s until the mid-1990s, Blandford owned and successfully operated a chain of betting shops in the UK. He became one of the first traditional bookmakers to recognize the potential of the online industry and decided to get involved. Many people consider him to be a pioneer in the development of online gambling.
In 1997, Blandford sold his bookmaking chain to Tote Bookmakers. Just a year later he launched SportingBet.com from Alderney. The company was an instant success in 1999; it got listed on OFEX and the stock exchange for smaller companies. The entrepreneurial spirit of Blandford helped the company to grow rapidly and in 2001 SportingBet was floated on the Alternative Investment Market on the London Stock Exchange.
Blandford was named AIM Entrepreneur Of The Year in 2002. He continued to drive SportingBet forward and by 2005 the company was employing hundreds of people and making annual profits of over £100 million.
One of the key strategies Blandford used to grow SportingBet was the acquisition of other companies operating in the gambling market. The acquisitions he approved included Betmaker, Sportsbook, Number One Betting Shop, and Sporting Odds. At one point, SportingBet was the largest internet gambling group in the world.
A particularly notable acquisition was in 2004, when SportingBet purchased Paradise Poker. At the time Paradise was a major poker site and was particularly popular in the United States. However, in 2006 Paradise Poker had to stop taking deposits from US customers following the introduction of online gambling legislation in the region. At around the same time, SportingBet sold all of its US facing betting and casino operations.
Blandford left SportingBet in 2007 and continued to be a serial entrepreneur. He now has a corporate investment portfolio through which he owns stakes in a number of companies. He also has seats on several boards and is a founding partner of Burlywood Capital, a venture capital fund management firm.