BoyleSports to Potentially Bid for William Hill UK Betting Shops

Irish bookmaker BoyleSports has emerged as a potential bidder for William Hill’s physical betting shops around the UK as its new owner, Caesars Entertainment, is looking to offload its non-core, non-US business.

William Hill currently operates more than 1,400 locations around the UK. Analysts suggest that Caesars could fetch as much as £1.5 billion for the British betting firm’s UK and international operations.

The US casino operator approached the legacy bookmaker last September and finalized its acquisition in April. Throughout that span, Caesars has maintained that it would only focus on growing William Hill’s US sports betting business and would sell its other operations, which include a retail and online business in the UK and online businesses in several European markets. The casino powerhouse plans to use proceeds from the sale to pay down some of its debt.

BoyleSports, which operates 21 betting shops in the UK, two in the Isle of Man, 45 in Northern Ireland, and more than 250 in the Republic of Ireland, said in a statement to Irish news outlet the Sunday Independent that it would “certainly be interested in acquiring some or all of William Hill’s UK shops, or indeed any other opportunity that makes sense for our business.”

It should be noted that BoyleSports purchased in early 2020 William Hill’s retail network in Northern Ireland and two betting shops in the Isle of Man for an undisclosed amount.

A Principal High Street Operator

The recent BoyleSports statement read further that the company has made no secret of its “ambition to be one of the principal operators on the UK high street and that it believes its retail and digital offerings represent a “best in class safe and enjoyable proposition for the betting public.”

When it purchased William Hill’s Northern Ireland and Isle of Man portfolio in 2020, BoyleSports revealed plans to invest millions into revamping the wagering outlets, which are located primarily in the greater Belfast area as well as in Tyrone, Derry, and along the north coast. This was the operator’s largest acquisition in its nearly four-decade history.

As already pointed out, BoyleSports has long pursued expansion in the UK retail betting market. The company said in its statement that “the sale of the William Hill estate presents us with a rare opportunity to achieve the retail scale we have been targeting.”

However, the company would face massive competition as a slew of powerhouses have too expressed interest in William Hill’s non-US operations, with US buyout firm Apollo Global Management, online gambling operator 888 Holdings, and British bookmaker Fred Done being some of these.

Analysts noted that all of these other possible bidders have deep pockets, but BoyleSports, an independent bookmaker, is debt free and could team up with private equity funds to power up its finances and potentially outbid its fellow contenders.

Source: BoyleSports eyes up UK William Hill stores, Belfast Telegraph, June 21, 2021

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