William Hill is to close around 700 betting shops across the UK in a drastic move that could result in 4,500 job losses. It follows the British government’s decision to reduce the maximum stake on a Fixed Odds Betting Terminal from £100 to £2. The FOBTs, popular among punters that played virtual roulette on them, were propping up the stores and accounting for a high proportion of their turnover. Since the law changed, the bookmaker has seen a significant fall in gaming machine revenues. William Hill, which has 12,500 staff and 2,300 betting shops, said closures will begin by the end of the year. “The group will look to apply voluntary redundancy and redeployment measures extensively and will be providing support to all colleagues throughout the process,” it said in a statement.
GVC, the parent company of Ladbrokes Coral, now says it expects to see 900 store closures over two years as a result of the FOBT stake cut. That is 10% fewer stores than previous estimates. There are 3,300 combined stores in the Ladbrokes and Coral empire. GVC said the impact of the changes has been less severe than initially forecast. “We now expect up to 900 shops to be at risk of closure over the next two years as a result of the reduction in maximum stakes on FOBTs to £2 that came into force on April 1, and there are a number of shops that have been identified for closure as part of this process,” it said. “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. We will provide more detail when we announce our H1 results in August.”
David Power led the tributes to Paddy Power co-founder John Corcoran after the businessman and racehorse owner died aged 89. Power, Corcoran and Stewart Kenny created Paddy Power when they merged their combined empire of 40 Irish betting shops back in 1988. It has since gone on to become one of the world’s largest operators, snapping up Betfair and FanDuel and then rebranding as Flutter Entertainment earlier this year. Power, whose son Paddy is the face of the operation, said: “I think Stewart summed it up to me the other day when we were discussing it when he said 'a life well lived'. It was John's idea to start the Paddy Power company and he was the driving force behind the whole concept.”
The Times has published a damning feature on the amount of times punters need to turn over bonus money before they can actually make a withdrawal. The article lays into William Hill, Mansion Bet and Betway, interviewing gamblers that say it ruined their lives. The newspaper also used software to test the “reading age” of the terms and conditions associated with William Hill’s terms and conditions on its bonus offers, and found the firm’s casino deal was more complicated than Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. Average terms and conditions stretched to 16,000 words in the industry. Tom Watson, the Labour deputy leader who is always wheeled out to provide anti-gambling quotes, accused gambling companies of targeting customers with “misleading bonus offers” and called for a gambling ombudsman to be created to protect customers. “Affordability, fairness and transparency should be at the heart of the relationship between gamblers and operators”, he said.