William Hill will close 119 betting shops and ramp up its focus on digital channels as it emerges from the coronavirus lockdown. The firm reported pre-tax profits of £141 million for the first six months of 2020, compared with a loss of £63 million last year. It announced that it would repay £24.5 million it received from the UK government to pay furloughed workers during the lockdown. However, it does not expect customers to return to betting shops in the numbers seen before the pandemic. William Hill’s 1,500-strong retail estate was already on the ropes after the UK government reduced the maximum stake on FOBTs from £100 to £2, and now it has revealed that 119 high street betting shops will not reopen. Around 300 staff were affected, but most have been redeployed elsewhere in the company. “We anticipate that longer term retail footfall will not return to pre-Covid levels and 119 shops will remain closed following early lease breaks, with the majority of colleagues redeployed within the estate,” said William Hill in a statement.
Paddy Power has joined forces with the Missing People charity and Motherwell FC to raise awareness about worrying numbers of missing people in the UK. The campaign will see Paddy Power fill the south stand of Motherwell’s stadium with blank silhouettes when they play home games. Official statistics state that a person disappears every 90 seconds in the UK, with the annual figure reaching 186,000. “We all know fans are missing from football at the moment, but some are missing from wider life, too,” said Paddy Power. “We hope this campaign, and striking image, can spark conversations across the country – as the majority of our customer base are young men, the demographic that’s most at risk of going missing.” Paddy Power also had to apologise for homophobic language used in a social media video it uploaded this week.
Online gamblers should not be able to lose more than £100 a month without proving they can afford it, according to proposals from a thinktank called Social Market Foundation. The group is also calling for a maximum stake of £1 to £5 on online slots, a new ombudsman, tax breaks for offshore firms that move onshore, and clearer sanctions for bookmakers that do no “uphold standards”. “Remote gambling is on the rise, yet remains outside the same controls applied to its land-based equivalents,” said the SMF. “It makes no sense that the same ‘obligation’ to reduce harm through limits to stake and speed should not be applied to an online sector which provides the most accessible content of all.”
888 Sport has launched a promotion called free bet run to celebrate the return of the Champions League. Place a qualifying bet of £20 or more at odds of evens (2.00) or higher on a Champions League match, using the bet builder or match combos tool, and you will be credited with a £5 free bets. Win your free bet and you will receive another, and you will continue to receive free bets up to 10 times if you maintain your winning streak. When your streak ends, you can re-enter by placing another £20 bet. 888 Sport is also offering boosted odds of 6/1 on Bayern Munich and 66/1 on Chelsea for Saturday night’s Champions League last 16 clash. You can bet a maximum of £5 at those boosted odds, and you must deposit £10 into a new account to unlock the bonus.