UK gambling operator William Hill could face potential store closures in Burton, Uttoxeter and Swadlincote following the Government’s decision to impose stricter regulation on controversial fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
The decision of the country’s authorities to roll out a clampdown on the machines could be a threat for the gambling company’s betting outlets in the above-mentioned towns amid potential plans to shutter up to 900 across the country – a step that could lead to possible loss of 4,500 jobs.
The British gambling and sports betting operator recently reported a massive pre-tax loss for the first half of the current fiscal year, blaming the regulatory challenges in the UK and US. It was only last week when William Hill reported a half-year loss of £820 million, with the performance of the operator putting in jeopardy hundreds of stores of the brand across the UK, including the ones in Uttoxeter, Swadlincote and Burton.
As mentioned above, William Hill has warned that the betting shops closures could lead to the divestment of about 4,500 jobs across the country.
UK Gambling Operators Could Be Hurt By FOBT Clampdown
At the time when the company announced its financial results for the first half year of the year, it blamed the UK Government’s decision to slash the maximum stake allowed on fixed-odds betting terminals from £100 to £2 for the negative impact on its business.
May 2018 finally saw the competent authorities’ decision to introduce new rules on FOBT maximum stakes, following the enormous pressure from anti-gambling campaigners and a number of charity authorities which claimed that the machines could be quite dangerous for more vulnerable individuals. At the time when the UK Government announced its decision for the reduction of the machines’ maximum stakes, William Hill issued a warning that the decision would most likely have a massive impact on the company’s performance and would make almost 40% of its nation-wide betting shops unprofitable.
As revealed by a spokesman of the gambling operator, this could put hundreds of the company’s betting shops at risk of being closed within a relatively short time.
Controversial fixed-odds betting machines still allow players to place a maximum stake of £100 every 20 seconds on casino-style games such as blackjack and roulette. According to experts, the fast pace of the gameplay, combined with the flashing lights and the realistic sounds of the terminals made the machines pretty attractive to users, which explains the highly-addictive nature of the terminals.
As mentioned above, anti-gambling campaigners have insisted for stricter measures to be imposed on the FOBTs in order for more vulnerable individuals to be protected from possible gambling-related harm.
At the time when the UK Government announced its decision for the FOBT maximum stake reduction to £2, gambling operators shared that the step would probably hurt their performances, as fixed-odds betting machines have been crucial for their gambling revenue. Matthew Hancock, the then-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), then explained that the Government preferred to prioritise British citizens over the gambling industry, especially when it comes to gambling-related harm and its possible consequences over more vulnerable individuals’ finances, mental and physical health.