William Hill has entered into a consultation process over plans to close around 700 of its shops across the UK, as it seeks to rearrange its business following the decision to cut the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
The bookmaker has said the move is a direct result of the government’s ruling on FOBTs. As of April 1, punters can only stake up to £2, significantly lower than the previous maximum bet of £100. The stake forced William Hill into an £882.8m write-down of the value of its retail business, which resulted in it posting a £721.9m loss in its 2018 results.
Since the change came into effect, William Hill has reported a “significant fall” in gaming machine revenue, and in May revealed a 7% year-on-year drop in retail revenue for the first 17 weeks of the year.
Although the bookmaker has said that this in line with guidance issued by the government when it first announced the decision in May 2018, it is taking action by reducing its UK retail presence.
Subject to the outcome of the consultation process, shop closures are set to begin before the end of the year, with around 4,500 employees at risk of redundancy.
“The group will look to apply voluntary redundancy and redeployment measures extensively and will be providing support to all colleagues throughout the process,” William Hill said in a statement.
When the government first announced the plans to lower the stake, William Hill said that as many as 900 unprofitable shops could close as a result of the move.
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