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Irish bookies BoyleSports buy out 35 William Hill betting shops

William Hill gambling news

Irish bookmakers BoyleSports are buying 35 William Hill betting shops – 33 in Northern Ireland and two in the Isle Of Man – in a deal that highlights a significant change in focus for both operators.

The financial details of the deal have not yet been announced. However, William Hill is a trusted brand and one would expect the shops to have a decent footfall, even in the current retail betting environment. Betting duty legislation in the Republic of Ireland is a factor in the deal.

The transfer of these shops from William Hill means BoyleSports will have 298 licensed cash betting outlets across Ireland, making them the biggest shop operators throughout the whole island.

The chief executive of BoyleSports detailed how the deal with William Hill fitted in with the company’s ambitions in both parts of Ireland and the whole of the UK.

“BoyleSports are delighted to realise its long-held ambition to develop a meaningful retail presence across Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man,” said Conor Gray.

“This acquisition complements our existing retail network in Northern Ireland and our retail network in the Republic of Ireland while also representing a significant step in our long-standing ambition to develop our retail footprint across the UK.”

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Boylesports acquired 18 shops from Bruce Betting located south of the border in November 2019. The sellers highlighted the increase in betting duty in the Republic as one of the reasons for the sale. The BoyleSports deal with William Hill suggests a shift in expansion from the Republic to Northern Ireland. The Irish government increased betting tax in the 2019 budget.

The initial transition from William Hill to BoyleSports betting shops will take place over 30 days. The new owners will engage with the existing 220 members of staff to discuss the implications for their employment. William Hill have announced that workers will be retained under the existing terms and conditions.

“We look forward to working with the BoyleSports team on a smooth transition and maintaining a great customer experience with shops retaining William Hill branding until the transition at the end of the first quarter when the process completes,” a William Hill spokesperson said.

The deal indicates the part of Ireland in which BoyleSports sees commercial viability for licensed betting offices. Increased duty in the Republic makes Northern Ireland a more attractive proposition. Gray has suggested that future investment will be focused elsewhere, including Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

The deal also points to William Hill’s ongoing changing commitment to betting offices. The operator closed about 700 retail outlets in Britain in 2019. The shops had become economically unviable after the UK government slashed stakes on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) to £2 from £100 on April 1. The betting office landscape in Ireland and Britain continues to change due to legislation.

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