Gambling firm William Hill is set to close around 700 of its stores following the Government’s clampdown on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
Prior to this April, FOBTs allowed gamblers to spend up to £100 every 20 seconds on the highly addictive machines.
But following public outcry over the harms caused by the machines the maximum bet was cut to £2.
It is reported that before the stake levels were cut, many of William Hill’s 2,282 shops were reliant on FOBTs for more than 50 per cent of their revenue.
Across all betting shops the machines generated around £1.5 billion, around 10 per cent of the industry’s entire £14.5 billion takings.
They were so profitable that firms would set up multiple shops in an area to get around rules limiting the number of machines per outlet.
Ladbrokes Coral, which owns over 3,000 betting shops, is also expected to announce closures.
Preventing extreme losses
William Hill says it is looking “to apply voluntary redundancy and redeployment measures extensively” to reduce the impact on the 4,500 jobs at risk.
A Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport spokesman said: “By cutting the maximum FOBT stake from £100 a spin to £2, we are helping to stop extreme losses by those who can least afford them.
“The gambling industry has had over a year to make preparations for this change, including to mitigate job losses. We now expect them to provide the right support to any staff affected by planned shop closures.”