GVC Holdings, the operator of Ladbrokes and Coral, has announced the possible closure of 900 of its high street shops.
The company previously estimated that 1,000 shops would be affected. However, the decision is still expected to hit up to 5,000 jobs and impact revenue by £120m.
William Hill announced similar plans last week, with 700 stores at risk of closing over the next two years. Both companies cited the FOBT stake cut bought in April 2019 as a major contributor to the closures.
A statement from GVC Holdings explained: “We now expect up to 900 shops to be at risk of closure, affecting up to 5,000 roles, over the next two years as a result of the reduction in maximum stakes on FOBTs to £2 that came into force on 1st April, and there are a number of shops that have been identified for closure as part of this process.
“This is not a decision we are taking lightly and we will be working hard to minimise the number of redundancies through redeployment within the business, whilst offering redundancy terms enhanced beyond the statutory requirement.”
GVC Holdings currently owns over 3,350 stores, meaning the closures would impact 26% of its retail offerings.
Following announcements by Betfair, William Hill and GVC Holdings, it’s estimated that a quarter of UK betting shops could close, putting over 12,000 jobs at risk.
Tracey Crouch, the former sports minister who pioneered the FOBT caps said: “While I am sorry to hear of job losses, the truth is there was huge overinflation in the number of bookmakers on our high streets because of the profit-making capacity of FOBTs.
“The closures shouldn’t only be blamed on stake changes though – that would be too simplistic.
“There has been consolidation within the industry and a drive from the bookmakers themselves to less costly online gambling for some time now and mass closures were predicted in the industry-funded KPMG report, even without stake reductions.”
Industry stats suggest that high street betting stores were already in decline before the caps as people were switching to online sportsbook casinos. The Gambling Commission reported that racecourses and booker maker income dropped between 2015 and 2018, whereas online betting income increased by over £1bn.
Tom Blenkinsop, operations director at the betting shop workers union Community, called on William Hill to prevent redundancies by finding alternatives where possible.
“The government also has a role to play and must look at what support they can offer to workers whose jobs are threatened as a consequence of changes to the law around FOBTs,”
“Betting shops provide an important source of local employment and many of our members have served the company loyally for years. Workers don’t deserve to be the victims of the changes happening in the industry as a result of either government policy or the significant shift towards online gambling.”
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