BoyleSports is keeping a careful eye on William Hill’s progress as the Dundalk betting giant looks to complete its long-awaited UK expansion by acquiring “some or all” of William Hill’s retail business.
BoyleSports, led by new CEO Mark Kemp, has joined a slew of competitors chasing William Hill offcuts, as new owner Caesars Entertainment has decided not to keep the legacy UK bookmaker’s UK and European properties after a £2.9 billion takeover last April.
Plans for UK growth
BoyleSports, Ireland’s second-largest bookmaker, has made no secret of its plans to grow throughout the United Kingdom, following in the footsteps of its founder and chairman, John Boyle.
In 2019, BoyleSports began expanding its UK business by acquiring independent bookmaker Wilf Gilbert’s 13 Midlands betting shops. The company’s expansion strategy, however, was thwarted by the unforeseen events of 2020.
A BoyleSports statement read: “We already have 21 shops in the UK which, along with our 45 shops in Northern Ireland and our recently upgraded online betting site, gives us a sizeable foothold in the UK.
“The sale of the William Hill estate presents us with a rare opportunity to achieve the retail scale we have been targeting.”
The Irish company stands by its ‘operating nous’ in navigating the UK betting industry’s changing retail landscape, where incumbents are still adjusting to the introduction of a £2 stake limit on FOBTs in 2019, and more clients have migrated online owing to lockdowns.
BoyleSports’ expansion proposals to acquire The Tote estates in 2008 and Ladbrokes-Coral retail offcuts in 2016 were both rejected, with Betfred winning both times.
Because William Hill’s UK operation is estimated to be worth £1.5 billion, all eyes will be on new CEO Kemp to see how BoyleSports shapes its offer to persuade Caesars.
Caesars executives had previously stated that the business would sell William Hill’s UK and European assets as soon as possible, in order to focus all of its resources on being the leading sportsbook provider in the young US betting industry.
However, Caesars’ expectations for a rapid sale have been tempered as UK betting awaits the conclusion of the government’s generational review of the 2005 Gambling Act — a key factor in determining William Hill’s desired valuation.
A slew of bidders have surfaced to join BoyleSports, including US private equity firm Apollo Global, FTSE mainstays Entain and 888 Holdings, and old nemesis Betfred – but no one has pulled the trigger as of yet.