Britain’s William Hill to shut 700 betting shops, Latest World News - The New Paper

Britain’s William Hill to shut 700 betting shops

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LONDON : William Hill plans to cut about a third of its betting shops in Britain after the government slashed the maximum stake permitted on fixed-odds terminals.

Britain cut the maximum stake allowed to £2 (S$3.40) in April after complaints that the machines, which had previously let gamblers bet up to £100 every 20 seconds, were highly addictive and allowed players to rack up big losses.

William Hill said yesterday it had suffered a significant fall in revenues since the change and would close 700 shops.

It said the closures, which would put about 4,500 jobs at risk, may begin before the end of the year.

Despite industry warnings that such a reduction could cost thousands of jobs, the British government pushed ahead with it, saying the machines, offering games such as roulette, were a blight preying on the most vulnerable in society.

The popularity of the terminals had helped to sustain a nationwide network of around 8,500 betting shops on the British high street, even when more gamblers were using smart phones, tablets and computers to bet on sports such as soccer and horse racing - the traditional mainstays of the industry.

The closure of betting shops is likely to further accelerate that trend toward online gambling.- REUTERS