Why is William Hill PLC, one of the UK's largest and most famous bookmakers planning to close 700 betting shops and cut over 4,500 jobs?
The Government recently changed the law, lowering the maximum stake allowed on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBT) from £100 to £2. The law was changed in April, and since then William Hill has seen a substantial drop in FOBT revenues at its stores.
William Hill stated:
“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…A large number of redundancies is anticipated with 4,500 colleagues at risk.”
They are expecting to begin shop closures and redundancies at the end of the year.
Adam Bradford, founder of the Safer Online Gambling Group, said:
“This move was long in coming for the betting industry who failed to protect addicts and clean up their act in time. ‘Betting machines on the high street have caused untold misery, and now punters will make their move into the growing area of online betting.”
Will More Gambling Companies Be Affected?
Betfred said they might close 500 stores, leading to 2,500 job losses, while Ladbrokes, owned by GVC commented that close to 900 betting shops could close, with up to 5,000 staff redundancies.
The combined closures mean that 25% of the UK's betting shops would close, threatening close to 5,000 employees, representing 12% of employees in the UK betting industry.
William Hill has stated:
“The group will look to apply voluntary redundancy and redeployment measures extensively and will be providing support to all colleagues throughout the process,” its statement said.”
Will This Affect Bingo Halls and Online Bingo?
The recent changes won't have any impact on traditional bingo (land-based) and online bingo. The new max-bet of £2 only applies to FOBT, which the Government have stated is due to their addicting nature, and the speed with which customers can lose significant amounts of cash.