FOBTs fears sees betting rethink its place on the high street

As the UK government enforces its £2 FOBTs stake reduction beginning this April, betting leadership is reported to be reviewing all options with regards to the industry’s presence on the high street.

During the course of 2018, all major UK high street incumbents – Ladbrokes/Coral, William Hill, Betfred and Paddy Power established special units assessing the potential impacts of FOBTs reductions on their UK retail networks.

FTSE betting group William Hill, was the first bookmaker to confirm betting shop closures, declaring during its full-year 2018 results that it had committed to shutting down 900 stores across the UK.

This weekend, competitor Ladbrokes disclosed to The Sun and Guardian newspapers that it had identified 1,000 betting shops which will likely be closed in 2019.

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

As reported, Ladbrokes planned betting shop closures could place 5,000 staff at risk of losing their jobs, within an 18-to-24 month period.

Furthermore, the FOBTs cut has impacted wider industry stakeholders, as closing 2018, Arena Racing Company (ARC) confirmed a £3 million reduction in prize-pool funds for 2019.

Facing harsh realities, betting leadership is aware that the industry’s retail proposition has to be redeveloped if the sector is to avoid dire Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) estimates that UK closures could reach + 4,500.

Despite the many challenges, betting has yet to turn its back on retail as a corporate discipline.

Speaking to William Hill investors this March, Chief Executive Phillip Bowcock outlined ‘remodelling UK retail’ as one of three core principals in the firm’s corporate recovery programme.

The executive stated that William Hill maintained the ‘best retail operating team in the industry’, which would be able to bring new concepts to market, refreshing its retail proposition.

Furthermore, Bowcock outlined that UK retail learnings and competencies would be transferred to the firm’s fast growth US market…

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