Despite the gloomy projections about UK’s retail betting sector after a massive crackdown on its highest grossing product, Irish bookmaker BoyleSports has decided to proceed with a long-time goal to enter that same sector through a strategic acquisition.
The Racing Post reported today that BoyleSports has purchased indie UK betting shop operator Wilf Gilbert for an undisclosed amount. Wilf Gilbert is one of UK’s longest running independent retail betting chains. It currently operates 13 betting shops in the Midlands.
The acquisition of Wilf Gilbert is part of BoyleSports’ strategy to expand into the retail betting market of the UK and assume ownership of 100 betting shops within the next 12 months.
Commenting on the deal, BoyleSports CEO Conor Gray said that it has helped them realize their long-term goal of entering the UK retail betting sector and bring to the local betting public “the same quality of service and of shops” his company’s Irish customers has enjoyed for years.
“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 FOBTs Crackdown
A lot of companies would have probably thought twice before venturing into the UK retail betting market after the recent crackdown on the highly controversial fixed-odds betting terminals. The machines used to generate the greater portion of the nation’s retail betting revenue. However, following pressure from responsible gambling organizations and other involved parties, the UK Government agreed to reduce the maximum stake on FOBTs to £2 from £100. The new maximum stake became effective on April 1.
The massive reduction will change drastically the UK retail betting landscape. According to early projections, Ladbrokes Coral (now part of GVC Holdings), William Hill, and Betfred – the three companies that operate the largest betting shop chains in the nation – will be forced to close around 2,400 of their shops over the next few yeas. There were 8,423 retail betting facilities around the country in the period between October 2017 and September 2018, according to the latest industry stats released by the UK Gambling Commission.
However, BoyleSports has never operated FOBTs in its domestic market as these are banned in Ireland. The company seems to be confident that its overall experience in running betting shops will help it navigate successfully in the changing UK retail betting landscape.
BoyleSports’ CEO told the Racing Post that their plans for their UK operation include transforming 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” as well as complimentary refreshments and access to WiFi.
Latest Industry Statistics
The UK Gambling Commission released its latest industry report last week. Total gross gambling yield for the period between October 2017 and September 2018 amounted to £14.5 billion. Online gambling was once again the industry’s largest sector with GGY of £5.6 billion.
Online casino was the largest remote gambling sector with GGY of nearly £3 billion, followed by online sports betting with GGY of just over £2 billion.
The retail betting sector generated GGY of £2.8 billion. FOBTs were the highest grossing retail betting product with GGY of £1.5 billion. The number of FOBTs across UK betting shops stood at more than 33,300 during the reviewed period.
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June 1, 2019