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William Hill blames new FOBTs rules on decision to shut up to 700 shops

In the UK, major bookmaker William Hill has reportedly announced plans to close up to 700 stores to make up for the £ 820m ($ 1.02bn) losses due to tightened national rules for fixed odds betting Expect terminals (FOBTs).

Job losses:

According to a Thursday report by The Guardian newspaper, the London-based operator said the move would result in up to 4,500 people losing their jobs, despite promising to make voluntary redundancies and helping released workers find alternative jobs.

Regulatory re-write:

The newspaper reported that new regulations came into effect in April that reduced the maximum FOBT share from £ 100 ($ 125) per spin to just £ 2 ($ 2.50), and that this is already significant operators like Ladbrokes Coral Group and Betfred has prompted to present similar real estate reduction plans. The couple allegedly claimed that the video slot machines were responsible for up to half of their high street revenue, although rival PaddyPower Betfair, who had recently changed his name to Flutter Entertainment, had predicted that this would not be the case.

Rival discounts:

The Guardian reported that the company behind the Ladbrokes Coral Group, GVC Holdings, has warned that it may now be forced to close down about 900 stores with the loss of about 5,000 jobs, while Betfred predicted about 500 such closures for about 2,500 layoffs , The paper also stated that the closure of 2,100 land-based betting shops at worst would account for about a quarter of Britain’s 8,423 brick-and-mortar outlets, potentially leading to the dismissal of up to 12,500 employees.

Not apologetic reaction:

However, the government’s former sports minister, Tracey Crouch, was not remorseful and told the newspaper it was “too simple” to simply attribute the closures, as announced by William Hill, to the reduction in FOBT shares. The Conservative politician resigned last year in protest of the belated introduction of the reduced stakes and allegedly proclaimed that the profitability of the controversial machinery had led to “a tremendous overinflation in the number of bookmakers on our main roads.”

Crouch is said to have told The Guardian …

“There has been consolidation within the industry, and bookmakers themselves have been struggling to make online gambling more cost-effective for some time, with the industry-sponsored KPMG report predicting mass closures, even without lowering the stakes.”

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