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Simon Deloit July 25, 2019 3 min read
William Hill’s Response to FOBTs Reductions in the UK
William Hill is now thinking to engage with the U.S. betting market more actively, faced with stringent regulatory measures at home.
William Hill and FOBTs
William Hill troubles back home in the United Kingdom could potentially lead to the strengthening of the company’s U.S. portfolio. Facing stringent regulations, the company is now shutting down estimated 700 betting shops, which could lead to laying off as many as 4,500 employees.
While WH will try to re-train and re-assign many of its current staff members, many people will have to be let go through voluntary redundancies and compensation packages. The latest developments are the result of the fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) rate reduction.
The Downfall of Betting Terminals
The United Kingdom is one of the world’s best sports betting and casino markets in the world. The online segment rivals Nevada and New Jersey’s brick-and-mortar venues. Incidentally, the United Kingdom is also the world’s most regulated market, with lawmakers taking keen interest in the industry year in and year out.
Last year, and for much of 2019, the debate about reducing the rate of FOBTs and levying a heftier remote gambling tax were heated and a common headline. FOBTs terminals were initially slated to get a reduction in the maximum allowable bet form £100 to £2 for the autumn, when the tax would be increased as well.
However, activists, including a former minister, Tracey Crouch, managed to convince lawmakers to pass the new FOBTs measures as early as April 2019, citing evidence that the consequences of playing at such terminals put people at direct risk of addiction and suicide.
How Did William Hill Take It
The company has warned that such an abrupt reduction would cause a lot of redundancies and prompt all main gambling companies in the sector to start shedding assets. Coral and Ladbrokes have joined in with William Hill, with the companies commutatively dropping as many as 900 shops across the United State.
Put in perspective, 35% of the UK’s retail workers in the land-based betting and gambling sector could be out of a job before late. William Hill’s CEO Philip Bowcock has issued his own concerns about the reduction of the betting range.
He refused to qualify FOBTs in any terms other than explaining the purely financial consequences for business.
Ready for an American Debut
William Hill is already running a solid portfolio in the United States, particularly in New Jersey and Nevada. In Nevada alone, the sportsbook is responsible for 32% of the market share of bookmakers, which puts it at the helm.
William Hill additionally teamed up with Eldorado Resorts, which could potentially give it access to 23 million customers across all 13 states in which Eldorado is currently operating. Eldorado is also teaming up with Caesars Entertainment, which puts it as a crossroads and introduces William Hill to even tougher competition.
Yet, in the face of a shrinking market at home, the expanding and projected to be second-largest betting region in the world seems more tempting by the day.