Irish bookmaker BoyleSports has bought 35 William Hill betting shops, mostly based in Northern Ireland, for an unspecified amount as the independent retailer is looking to expand their assets.
BoyleSports is estimated to have charged between £ 10 m and £ 15 m for William Hill’s 33 betting shops across Northern Ireland as well as two shops in the Isle of Man. This has been the biggest purchase by BoyleSports to date and makes the company the largest betting store operator in Ireland.
At present, BoyleSports operates 259 shops in the Republic of Ireland and six outlets in Northern Ireland. The recent acquisition will significantly reinforce the foothold of the independent bookmaker in Northern Ireland where tough licencing conditions make it difficult to open up from scratch betting shops.
BoyleSports, originally from Dundalk, Ireland, has been on the acquisition trail for many years. It purchased the 18-shop Bruce Betting chain last year as well as five Mulholland Bookmakers stores in Galway to boost its footprint in its motherland.
It also bought the 13 betting shops in the English Midlands from independent retailer Wilf Gilbert to mark its arrival on the UK retail betting market. BoyleSports said the recent transactions were the result of its plan to concentrate its efforts on increasing its activities outside of the Republic of Ireland due to the government’s decision to double the duties for betting.
The betting shop operator has also announced plans to build a 100-shop estate in the UK, given the difficult operating conditions arising from the recent reduction in the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals from £100 to £2.
The clampdown on the controversial gambling machines blamed for a surge in gambling addiction across the UK has prompted some of the largest betting shop operators to consider closing off some of their sites.
William Hill flagged plans to close some 700 betting shops in 2019 after government cutting the maximum stake on FOBTs. The gambling operator used to rely heavily on revenue from its retail operations, but was seeking to improve its digital arm’s performance and expand its regulated US sports betting presence to offset the losses it has and would suffer from the clampdown of FOBTs.
By acquiring Stanley Racing, William Hill entered the retail betting market in Northern Ireland in 2005. Although British betting laws do not apply on the Northern Irish market, local operators have moved to voluntarily reduce the stakes on gambling machines to match the restrictions imposed elsewhere in the UK, which explains the decision of William Hill to leave that market.
Although purchasing the 35 betting shops is having immediate effect, BoyleSports said it will take operational control of the facilities after 30 days, giving itself ample time to communicate with the 220 new employees and ensure their transition is effortless.