William Hill plans to shut 700 betting shops due to “fall in gaming machine revenues”

Attributing its decision to the losses arising from the controversial FOBT legislation introduced earlier this year, UK bookmaker William Hill has confirmed that it will be closing approximately 700 betting shops, set to impact 4,500 members of staff.

William Hill explained in a media statement that it had entered into a consultation process with its retail colleagues, and that “subject to the outcome of the consultation process, shop closures are likely to begin before the end of the year.”

According to the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), William Hill currently owns 2,300 shops and employs 12,500 people. Earlier in the year, the bookmaker had recorded a seven per cent drop in retail revenues.

The media statement explained: “This follows the Government’s decision to reduce the maximum stake on B2 gaming products to £2 on 1 April 2019. Since then the company has seen a significant fall in gaming machine revenues, in line with the guidance given when the Government’s decision was announced in May 2018.”

The statement continued: “A large number of redundancies is anticipated with 4,500 colleagues at risk. The Group will look to apply voluntary redundancy and redeployment measures extensively and will be providing support to all colleagues throughout the process.”

William Hill is not the only bookmaker currently feeling the squeeze caused by the £2 maximum FOBT stake, with Ladbrokes revealing earlier in the year that it had highlighted up to 1,000 betting shops which could face closure this year.

The bookmaker explained that it would have to make cuts from ‘from Ayrshire to Essex’, at an estimated cost of approximately £50,000 per shop closure.

At the time of the FOBT legislation being discussed, the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) warned that the move would lead to a number of job losses across the UK betting industry.

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