- William Hill warns about possible property shut-downs
- Former minister Tracey Crouch expresses regret over this
- The company will try to keep as many employees as it can
William Hill has revealed plans on Thursday to close down 700 shops and potentially release 4,500 employees, following effects from FOBTs restrictions.
William Hill Reveals Plans to Shut 700 Shops in the UK
With the United Kingdom tightening its measures against gambling, high-street bookmakers and gaming companies have been reporting plans to shed jobs by the thousand. William Hill has announced that it will seek to close 700 betting shops in the United Kingdom, following the government’s clamp-down on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
The FOBTs have been one of the most contentious point regulators, lawmakers and businesses have argued about. In the end, it has been decided that the maximum single bet that can be placed at FOBTs should be reduced to £2 from previously £100, a considerable difference.
Bookmakers have warned that such a sudden plunge in the betting limit would imperil a lot of the operations. In the case of William Hill, this amounts to 4,500 jobs. A broader look at the current turmoil in the gaming industry in the country reveals that as many as 12,000 people may be at a risk of losing their jobs.
William Hill is not the only gaming company in the country to reveal similar plans, with other flagship operators, such as Coral, Ladbrokes and Betfred also assuming this stance against the recent government-launched changes.
More Bookmakers Closing Down Shops Amid FOBTs Panic
All other bookmakers are also considering similar moves. For example, Ladbrokes‘ parent company, GVC, has targeted 900 shops which would lead to 5,000 lost jobs. Betfred is up with another 500 and that would translate into 2,500 lost jobs.
To put things in perspective, estimated 25% of all betting shops in the United Kingdom will be closed and over 12,000 people will be let go. A silver lining could be seen in the act that bookmakers originally predicted double these numbers with some 20,000 jobs on the line.
Lawmakers weren’t moved by the prospect and continued with the introduction of the ban nevertheless, spearheaded by former minister Tracey Crouch who handed in her resignation amid the FOBTs saga.
Ms. Crouch was not indifferent to the state of the industry and the oncoming loss of employment opportunities, but she pointed to “over inflation” of the number of bookmaker shops in the United Kingdom. However, Ms. Crouch also acknowledged other reasons for the closure of properties, including consolidation within the industry:
“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.”
Gambling’s Increasing Popularity in the UK
Despite gambling measures tightening and betting companies volunteering to increase the money they spend on responsible gambling and opt out of pre-watershed advertisement, the nation’s love for gaming has increased.
Based on a YouGov research, people in the United Kingdom have been placing wagers more compared to the previous study. The latest numbers indicated that 13% of the nation wagered in the 12 months before the interview, with just 11% a year before that.
With the shrinking landscape for betting shops, some are hoping that the number of gamers would fall, but as Ms. Crouch has pointed out, the industry is simply consolidating and expanding online. The good that has come out of the FOBTs ban is that players are spending less time on the machines and the chances of experiencing financial ruin are significantly smaller.
Commenting on the closure of its betting shops, William Hill has also said that it would seek to compensate employees, retrain as many people as the company can afford to take on and minimize redundancies.