At a time when most UK bookmakers are undertaking drastic adjustments to their retail betting portfolios following the imminent changes to Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) regulations, Irish bookmaker Boylesports is apparently preparing to branch out with its first UK shops.
According to reports in the Irish media, the Dundalk-based Boylesports, which is Ireland’s second largest retail bookmaker, has reached the latter stages of an acquisition process that will see it take over several independent bookmakers in the north of the UK.
The move is not entirely unexpected. Since at least 2014, Boylesports has been exploring the possibility of entering the UK betting industry, as, according to founder and former Chief Executive, John Boyle, the company had little further room to expand in the Irish market.
In 2016, Boylesports made a £100 million bid to buy 350 betting shops, which the UK Competitions & Markets Authority had ordered the newly formed Ladbrokes-Coral organisation to sell. But the Irish company was outbid by Betfred and Stan James, who took over the offloaded shops.
Now under the leadership of Conor Gray, Boylesports is reported to be working on acquiring as many as 100 independent bookmakers, with the intention of establishing themselves in the north of the UK. The news of the acquisitions comes as analysts predict a year of upheaval for the UK betting industry following the FOBTs stake reduction, which kicks in next April. But the choppy economic waters in the UK market do not appear to have daunted Boylesports executives, who are believed to see a UK retail base as an enhancement to the company’s digital presence in the UK.
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