William Hill to close 700 betting shops - putting 4,500 jobs at risk
High street bookmaker William Hill has announced the planned closure of 700 betting shops across the UK, following the government's clamp down on fixed-odds betting machines.
The closures will put 4,500 staff jobs at risk.
Closures by the end of the year
In a statement, the company said, "William Hill has entered into a consultation process with retail colleagues over plans to close around 700 licensed betting offices.
"This follows the government's decision to reduce the maximum stake on B2 gaming products to £2 on 1 April 2019.
"Since then the company has seen a significant fall in gaming machine revenues, in line with the guidance given when the government's decision was announced in May 2018.
"A large number of redundancies is anticipated, with 4,500 colleagues at risk.
"The Group will look to apply voluntary redundancy and redeployment measures extensively and will be providing support to all colleagues throughout the process."
The company plans to being shutting shops by the end of this year, subject to the outcome of a consultation process.
B2 gaming machines
B2 gaming machines (also known as fixed-odds betting terminals) were first introduced into betting shops in 1999. Since then, the number of terminals within UK bookmakers has grown to 33,468.
In April this year, the maximum stake on B2 gaming machines was cut from £100 to £2, due to heavy criticism that they encouraged high-stakes gambling and exposed people to the risk of gambling addiction.
The company had previously said up to 900 of its betting shops could be at risk of closure thanks to the government's change to gambling laws.