Ireland-based bookmaker BoyleSports has announced a major expansion into Northern Ireland with the news that it has taken over the entirety of William Hill’s entire retail betting shop portfolio.
William Hill currently has 33 premises in Northern Ireland, and by acquiring them, Boylesports will increase its number of shops in Northern Ireland to 39.
The sale is part of the William Hill Board’s continued restructure of its retail betting section, following a series of changes during 2019. These included the closure of 700 betting shops in the UK, which were regarded as non-viable following the UK government’s decision to reduce the maximum stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) from £100 to £2.
But as William Hill has set about cutting back on its retail exposure, BoyleSports, which is the second biggest bookmaker in Ireland, has taken advantage of the FOBT issue to gain a foothold in the UK market. Last year, the company began an expansion project targeting the UK, in which it acquired the independent Midlands network of Wilf Gilbert.
Speaking about the new move, the Chief Executive at Boylesports, Conor Gray, said that it was a significant step in the company’s expansion plans, but that the company had a long standing relationship with Northern Ireland:
“BoyleSports is delighted to realise its long-held ambition to develop a meaningful retail presence across Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man. Indeed, John Boyle opened the first-ever BoyleSports in Markethill, Co Armagh, Northern Ireland in 1982, so increasing our presence in Northern Ireland many years later is significant on many fronts.”
He added that the deal would provide additional services for Northern Ireland punters and was another stage in the firm’s UK expansion plans.
According to reports, both companies have begun work on arranging the transfer of the shops along with the 220 members of staff who work for William Hill in Northern Ireland.