If the U.K. gambling market is expected to recede, no one bothered telling BoyleSports. The Irish bookmaker has wanted to get deeper into gambling for some time and has now fulfilled its dream. It has acquired an independent gambling operator, Wilf Gilbert, which it hopes will help the company expand its offerings in a shrinking market.
According to Racing Post, BoyleSports purchased Wilf Gilbert, one of the oldest independent retail gambling chains in the U.K., for an undisclosed sum. Across the midlands, it operates 13 shops and BoyleSports hopes to be able to continue its conquest over the course of the next year to take possession of as many as 100 gambling venues.
Conor Gray, the CEO of BoyleSports, acknowledges that the acquisition is the fulfillment of one of the company’s long-term goals and adds that it will be able to deliver to the gambling community “the same quality of service and of shops” that BoyleSports has given its customers in Ireland over the years. He adds, “Of course our ambition does not end with this group of shops. We are looking for other opportunities to grow our estate and hope to add more shops over the summer months and beyond.”
The move comes at a time that the U.K. has taken measures to cut back on gambling options—if some politicians had their way, the activity would be gone for good. The government has cut the maximum amount that can be wagered on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBT) from £2 from £100 ($2.53 to $126) and 2,400 gambling shops owned by William Hill, Betfred and Ladbrokes Coral (now an arm of GVC Holdings) are going to close. That’s about one-quarter of the 8,423 that were registered between October 2017 and September 2018.
BoyleSports has never been involved with FOBTs in the U.K. The machines are completely prohibited in Ireland, so stepping into the market without much experience and a shrinking sentiment toward gambling could prove to be a massive undertaking.
That’s no problem for Gray, however. He enjoys a good challenge and expects to be able to convert the 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.”