Irish independent bookmaker Tully Bookmakers has made the decision to sell its ten remaining retail venues to BoyleSports, as reported by the Racing Post.
Also taking on Tully’s telephone betting business, the acquisition will see BoyleSports maintain its position as the largest independent operator in Ireland with a suite of 268 retail betting shops throughout both the Republic and Northern Ireland.
The takeover marks the further strengthening of BoyleSports retail offering in its home market, building on the integration of the Racing Post’s Digital Betting Shop Display (BSD) at its Drogheda outlet in July, initiating its transition from paper-based to digital betting shops displays.
BoyleSports had previously expressed keen interest in acquiring William Hill’s retail business units following the sell-off of the latter company’s non-US assets after its acquisition by Caesars Entertainment.
Although BoyleSports was beaten to the punch by 888 Holdings, the firm remains interested in a potential buyout of William Hill’s betting shops in a bid to expand its presence in the UK should the British heritage bookmaker’s new owner decide to sell.
However, as noted by Sharon Byrne, Chairperson of the Irish Bookmakers Association (IBA), the development also demonstrates the difficulties currently faced by the retail betting sector, in particular smaller independent chains.
In contrast to their counterparts on the other side of the Irish Sea, which were permitted to open on a limited basis in April, Irish retail bookmakers were unable to resume operations until 29 June after re-entering an industry lockdown in mid-March.
Commenting on Tully’s retail sale to BoyleSports, Byrne remarked: “It’s a sign of how difficult it is for the smaller operators out there who are trying to survive. I wish BoyleSports well with their new shops.
“It’s very difficult for the smaller operators and consumer confidence just hasn’t come back yet since COVID. Placing bets and then leaving is the new normal. People aren’t ready to be hanging around the shops.”
According to the Racing Post, Tully Bookmakers cited falling profits as the primary reason behind the decision to sell the remainder of its betting shops, with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the imposition of Ireland’s 2% betting tax in 2018 adversely affecting its operations.
At its peak the company had a high street suite of 37 shops, but began to cut down its retail division in 2015 by selling an initial 10 to BoyleSports.
“It comes with mixed emotions but the final chapter has been written,” remarked Paul Tully, Tully Boomakers’ owner. “I thought it was time to get out. Neither myself nor my brother has any family interested in carrying on in the business, so we decided to take the plunge and jump.”