Giant British bookmaker William Hill announces 700 UK betting shops to close by end of year, blaming government’s FOBT policy.
Giant British bookmaker William Hill has announced plans to close 700 retail betting shops, around a third of its estate, with the potential loss of up to 4,500 jobs.
The drastic move should come as no surprise, as the company had threatened to close large numbers of betting shops if the government went ahead with draconian fixed-odds betting terminal (FOBT) limits in April (see IS THE WRITING ON THE WALL FOR WILLIAM HILL’S HIGH STREET SHOPS?).
In a statement, William Hill put the blame firmly on politicians in Westminster, saying:
“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 company said it would try to use voluntary redundancies and attempt to redeploy staff where possible, but that the process would inevitably lead to a “large number of redundancies.”
Betting shops are expected to close before the end of the year.
The betting industry had repeatedly warned the government that slashing the FOBT maximum stakes from £100 to just £2 would make many shops unviable, and lead to mass lay-offs – something the government utterly ignored.