Boylesports is one of the most iconic gambling brands in Ireland. In fact, they are actually Ireland’s biggest independent bookmaker, which is saying something given the brands that have come out of the country over the last 20 years or so.
They’ve been about since 1989 and have commanded a solid spot within high streets across Ireland and the UK throughout that time. At the minute they current have over 230 high street bookmakers, employing over 1,700 people in the process.
High Street Betting Shops
The company have been able to provide betting shops since 1989 and have a quite a colourful past, of which we will talk more about in the next section. Their first store was opening in Market Hill, Northern Ireland and since then they have made steady progression, hitting 100 stores by 2004.
What’s impressive is that the company still seem to be moving forward and whilst they are prominently based out of Ireland, they are still able to offer a great range of on street betting opportunities. They now include 231 stores in Ireland and this number continues to rise, even buying off the likes of William Hill and Celtic Bookmakers.
On the Internet
We think that if you asked Boylesports directly, which area if your business is most important, they would likely say their high street stores. But, it’s their online presence that has allowed the company to keep ticking over and even though they aren’t one of the biggest, they are one of the best in the business still.
Their online offerings opened their doors in 2005, which is later than most of the larger brands who were several years sooner than Boyle. But, they’ve quickly made up that time and then some, offering up a huge range of betting markets and sports to choose from as well.
The sites design is one that hasn’t changed an awful lot over the years and it’s been good to see they have stuck with the blue and white, which is now synonymous with the brand. What changes they have made have been tweaks more than anything, which is testament to how right they got it first time up more than anything.
But, we will say that as the years tick by, the site does start to become a little more dated and we think that in the next year or two, they will likely be looking at offering up something a little more modern. In terms of sports they can’t really be faulted and whilst both horse racing and football paly a big role, we liked that they offer a number of Irish based sports such as GAA football and GAA Hurling.
The mobile app is probably their best feature in our opinion and you will likely find that this suits the set up of the site more than just simply using the online site. The app can be used on all smartphone devices and the HTML 5 design makes for a smooth transition between online and mobile.
Boylesports has a pretty cool rags to riches story attached and it all comes down to one man…and his dad. John Boyle will be the first to admit that in the 1980’s life was a troubling time for him. He often spent his days drinking to the point where he knew he had a problem.
At the age of 25 he was married, with two kids and had just lost his job down to his drinking addiction. It was then that a massive wakeup call was sounded and Boyle decided that it was time for him to get his life back on track.
His father had worked in the betting industry for most of his life and John had often helped him out in those exact shops, so he knew how the industry worked. An opportunity to buy a shop in Marekthill, Co. Armagh came up in 1982 and his dad had loaned him the £6,000 to purchase the shop and also a float of £10,000 to get started.
John wanted his brother to help him out, but after several times where they had fallen out over John’s drinking, his brother declined. What’s interesting is that John openly admits that for 7 years he was bored and depressed in his first shop and only when he opened his second, then third did he really start to enjoy the process. He states though that these first 7 years were a vital part of his success and it has allowed him to make mistakes in order to grow.
By 2004, Boyle had already opened 77 betting stores across Ireland and was starting to become one of the biggest in the country. He even expanded outside of sports to include casino, bingo and poker offerings, both online and offline.
But, Boyle will be the first to admit that a lot of their growth had been down to the fact that the industry was slowing down, on the high street at least. They acquired 50 to 60 additional stores from companies that were moving on, including the likes William Hill and Celtic Bookmakers.
Boyle had actually suffered quite a lot in the economic downturn, suggesting that average bets were down from £21 per bet to just £14 per bet and the frequency in which people were betting was also down. They had their best ever year in 2006 and then by 2008 the industry had basically fallen off a cliff.
The mobile sector is one that Boyle is now exploiting keenly and with hit have seen a massive upturn in their fortunes. The company also stated that in 2005 they tried to buy the Tote in a deal worth almost £400million, but missed out as the deal fell through. It was alter sold to Betfred in 2011 for just £265million and Boyle said that if that had gone through, Boylesports may not have been around today to tell the tale, such were the affects of the economic crash.
Boylesports in the news
BoyleSports founder steps down as CEO as he hands over company reins to son-in-law (24th July 2017) – After 35 years of being head honcho for Boylesports, their owner and founder John Boyle has stepped down as CEO and founder. The company will now be run by his son-in-law, Connor Gray, who has been working with the company for the past 16 years.
BoyleSports acquires former Hacketts betting shops (12th Jul 2016) – Boylesports have reportedly bought a number of the former Hacketts bookmakers who were liquidated in 2016. The company are set to invest a further £4million into the project which will allow them to increase their high street presence ‘considerably’.
Boylesports challenges Ladbrokes restructuring (3rd June 2015) – Boylesports is looking to try and step in to takeover some 60 betting shops from the Ladbrokes Ireland brand. The company are looking to offload the stores for a reported sum worth ‘8-figures’, but if it goes ahead, the brand would be cutting some 250 jobs, which Boylesports does not want to see happen.