Irish bookmaker BoyleSports is set to enter the UK retail betting market next week through the recently announced acquisition of indie bookmaker Wilf Gilbert, the Racing Post reports.
It also became known that BoyleSports has tapped John Haddock, a gambling industry veteran with more than three decades of experience, to oversee the Irish operator’s UK betting shops. Mr. Haddock had previously served as CEO of Betfred.
BoyleSports revealed that it will launch its first betting shops in the UK in the middle of next week. The company announced this past June that it has entered into an agreement to purchase independent bookmaker Wilf Gilbert and its betting shops for an undisclosed amount as part of its strategy to expand into the UK retail sector.
BoyleSports’ CEO, Conor Gray told the Racing Post that they are set to take over Wilf Gilbert’s 13 betting shops in the Midlands. Mr. Gray added that next week’s launch of the BoyleSports brand “marks a realisation of a vision over a number of years.”
The executive also pointed out that their launch next week is just the beginning of their UK expansion not the culmination of their strategy.
BoyleSports previously revealed that its UK ambitions involve acquiring 100 betting shops around the nation within the next 12 months. Mr. Gray told the Racing Post that his company is close to adding more locations, bringing their total to more than 20.
Expansion Amid Government Crackdown
BoyleSports is gearing up preparations to enter the UK retail betting market amid difficult times for the sector. Earlier this year, the UK Government cracked down on the sector’s highest grossing product – the highly controversial fixed-odds betting terminals, reducing their maximum stake to £2 from £100.
The move is projected to take a huge toll on the sector with pending betting shop closures and job cuts. Major gambling operators such as William Hill and GVC’s Ladbrokes Coral have warned that they would reduce the number of their locations by hundreds in order to offset the losses they will suffer from the FOBTs crackdown.
BoyleSports has never operated FOBTs in its homeland as these are banned under Irish law. The company has expressed confidence that its overall experience in operating betting shops would help it navigate successfully through the changing UK retail betting landscape.
Of the challenges they are about to face in the UK, BoyleSports’ CEO said that they are well aware that it could be a bit difficult to enter a new jurisdiction and “try to implement a business model and a new way of doing things.” However, Mr. Gray added that they “still believe there is the potential for vibrant UK high street in this sector if it’s done well.”
BoyleSports has big plans for the 13 new facilities it will take over next week. The company says it will transform the betting shops into “world-class betting lounges with a wide variety of betting available on state-of-the-art screens and interactive terminals, with comfortable furniture” and complementary refreshments and free WiFi.
Mr. Gray revealed that they have been allowed by Wilf Gilbert’s management to put some of their fixtures and fittings into the 13 betting shops to have “a head start because when you are taking over 13 it can be a bit of a project in a short space of time.” BoyleSports expects to complete the transformation of the facilities within the next two or three months.
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