William Hill is to shut around 700 betting shops in the UK. This does not come as a shock after the cut in the maximum stake on FOBTs to £2 came into force on April 1.
Consultation with staff has begun with 4,500 staff members affected, with shop closures set to start before the end of this year.
This will come at a price as it will hit racing in both Britain and Ireland with each betting shop paying around £30,000 a year for the right to broadcast live sport, meaning a loss of up to £21 million in revenue for media rights holders.
A statement on Thursday morning from the bookmaker said: “William Hill has entered into a consultation process with retail colleagues over plans to close around 700 licensed betting offices.
“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.
“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. Subject to the outcome of the consultation process, shop closures are likely to begin before the end of the year.”
According to Gambling Commission statistics, William Hill had 2,282 betting shops at the end of September last year.
GVC Holdings, the parent company of Ladbrokes Coral, has previously said that up to 1,000 of its betting shops were at risk of closure, while Betfred has said 400 to 500 of their retail estate could close.
More to follow as the day goes on.
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