Boyle puts focus on online gambling


THE RECESSION hasn’t halted the gallop of bookie John Boyle, who was the guest speaker at a coffee morning hosted by children’s charity Plan Ireland at the Mansion House on Wednesday.

Boyle laid bare his colourful life, detailing his battle with alcoholism and his journey from being sacked as a bread salesman in 1981 to becoming one of the biggest bookmakers on the island. It has a turnover this year estimated at €1.2 billion.

Boyle added 40 shops to the Boylesports retail network last year, including 18 of the better performing stores from Ivan Yates’s failed Celtic Bookmakers.

“We’ve made a return on investment [from that deal] of 55 per cent in the first year,” Boyle says, “so that’s half my money back. It was a good buy. I got the jewels that people normally wouldn’t sell.”

Boyle also took over 15 shops from British rival William Hill, which left Ireland.

“William Hill rang me up one day and offered me 15 shops last year,” he recalls. “I thought, well I’ll have them. The last day we talked they gave me a €500,000 discount [on the price]. The return on that has been 17 per cent in three months. That has been another good deal.”

With 177 shops, Boyle is done with his retail expansion and focusing on its online operation. “I didn’t embrace it,” he admits. “Technology scared me. I’m old school, pen and paper. It’s been a slow learning curve and it’s only now that we’re cracking it.”

It will launch online in Asia ( including Macau and the Philippines) in time for the next English Premier League season. This will involve an investment of a “few million” euros with a “tailored product” for the continent.

“What they like out there is basketball and football, there’s no horses, like here.”

The Chelsea fan is bidding to become Manchester United’s betting partner in Asia. “We’d love to partner with that brand but it’s their decision in the end. They are looking at others, too.”