UK bookmaker William Hill has confirmed that it will be closing approximately 700 betting shops, impacting 4,500 members of staff, following the introduction of the controversial FOBT legislation on 1 April.
As detailed in a media statement, William Hill had entered into a consultation process with its retail colleagues.
The 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 impact of the decision is due to be felt across the UK and Irish racing industries, with the closure of shops set to result in a loss of up to £21 million in revenue for media rights holders.
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.
“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, 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.
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.
Earlier in the year, Ladbrokes had revealed that it had identified 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.