UK betting company GVC Holdings has announced that as many as 900 of its retail betting outlets, under the Coral and Ladbrokes brand names could be set to close.
The news follows a similar announcement by William Hill and GVC attribute the drastic shake up of its retail operation to the new regulations governing Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) that were first announced by the UK government last year and came into effect in April.
Currently, GVC owns 1,849 retail premises under the Ladbrokes brand and 1,540 under the name of Coral, but according to a GVC statement, as many as 900 shops could be at risk of closure, representing up to 5,000 jobs, over the next two years. Many shops have already been earmarked, but the company also says that it will be working hard to mitigate the effects of the closures:
“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.”
The closure announcement comes despite the fact that GVC have adjusted their estimate of the effects of the changes in FOBT rules, which saw the maximum stake on the machines reduced from £100 to £2 under pressure from politicians and lobby groups. Having first predicted a £145 million revenue hit in 2020, GVC now put the cost of the legislative changes at £120 million.
But reacting to the news from William Hill and GVC, the UK government has hit back at the industry. Speaking on Friday, a spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said that the industry was given plenty of time to prepare for the FOBT changes, and that the government stood by its reforms, which it said would help protect vulnerable people.