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William Hill confirms plans to close 700 shops

UK bookmaker William Hill has begun a consultation process to close around 700 licensed betting offices, putting 4,500 jobs at risk. The company seeks to rearrange its business following the UK Government’s decision to cut the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).

After the introduction of the FOBT legislation on April 1st and slashing maximum stakes from £100 to £2, William Hill had to write-down £882.8m of the value and subsequently reported a loss of £721.9m in the first six months of the year. The company also was hit by the significant fall in gaming machine revenue, and in May revealed a 7% year-on-year drop in retail revenue for the first 17 weeks of the year.

According to the UK Gambling Commission, William Hill currently owns 2,300 licensed betting offices and employs 12,500 people. However, the company announced plans to close around 700 shops, which puts 4,500 jobs at risk.

“This follows the Government’s decision to reduce the maximum stake on B2 gaming products to £2 on 1 April 2019. Since then the company has seen a significant fall in gaming machine revenues, in line with the guidance given when the Government’s decision was announced in May 2018,” William Hill said in a statement.

Subject to the outcome of the consultation process, shop closures are set to begin before 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,” the statement explained.

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