William Hill Considers Closing 700 Betting Shops and Risking 4,500 Jobs Due to FOBTs Stake Cut
One of UK’s leading bookmakers, William Hill, considers closing 700 of its licensed betting shops, due to £820 million revenue loss caused by the FOBTs stake cut. More than 4,500 employees could lose their jobs.
The situation has been deteriorating for a few months, ever since the stake cut from £100 to £2 on FOBTs took effect on the 1st of April, 2019.
William Hill to Close 700 Betting Shops
William Hill has reported revenue loss a month after the stake cuts took effect, looking for solutions on how to keep the business running. The bookmaker’s first idea was sending 2,000 letters to landlords of its betting shops asking them to lower the rent. But it looks like that did not turn out as expected.
Now, the bookmaker announced that closing 700 betting shops could be the best solution for it to stay alive in these turbulent times. As it said in the statement, the bookmaker attributes the move to the government’s decision to cut the stake on FOBTs from £100 to £2 which led to a significant revenue loss. As William Hill pointed out, more than 4,500 jobs would be at risk due to the betting shop closures but there was no other way out.
Back in March, when William Hill sent out those letters to the landlords, its Director of Corporate Communications Ciaran O’Brien told the media that the stake cut was going to have a significant impact on the business, and even at that time, O’Brien hinted that they could close up to 900 betting shops, even though not immediately. O’Brien said that they would seek solutions through mitigation, starting with the rent reductions. Four months later, as it seems, they haven’t found a solution, and therefore, they would have to close 700 of them.
Horseracing will also feel the consequences of the closures since each of William Hill’s betting shop pays £30,000 annually to broadcast live sport.
The Bookmaker’s Promise to the Employees
In its statement, the bookmaker explained that since the government reduced the stake on B2 gaming products from £100 to £2 on the 1st of April, the company had seen a significant decrease in gaming machine revenues, in line with the guidance given in May 2018 when the decision was announced.
With that said, William Hill explained that the company would look to apply voluntary redundancy in addition to redeployment measures extensively, and would be providing support throughout the process to all colleagues.