ABB warns pace of closures will quicken as betting shop numbers fall again
Betting shop numbers have fallen for the fourth year running according to the latest industry statistics, with the Association of British Bookmakers claiming the pace of closures is set to accelerate.
Figures from the Gambling Commission's half-yearly update show the continuing shift to online gambling, while the total gross gambling yield (GGY) of the sector – the amount retained by operators after winnings have been paid out – rose to £13.9 billion in the year to September 2017, a 0.7 per cent increase on the previous period.
Betting shop numbers in Britain on March 31 this year stood at 8,532, a three per cent fall on the previous year.
All the major high street operators recorded a fall in betting shop numbers but it was the independent sector that appeared to be hit hardest, with numbers falling 10.8 per cent from 1,210 to 1,079 in the last year.
Retail bookmakers have claimed that the government's recent decision to cut the maximum stake on FOBTs to £2 from £100 could lead to as many as 4,000 betting shops closing over the next few years.
A spokesperson for the ABB said: "Betting shops have continued to close and nearly 1,000 good jobs have been lost on the high street in the past year alone.
"The total number of bookies has halved since the 1960s, with just 8,500 remaining.
"The government’s decision to reduce stakes on gaming machines by 98 per cent will accelerate this pace of closure."
The importance of gaming machines to the retail betting sector was illustrated by the fact they represented 58.2 per cent of total off-course GGY – up 1.7 percentage points – compared to 41.8 per cent over-the-counter.
Non-remote betting GGY decreased by £93.7m to total £3.3bn, making it the second largest sector by GGY.
The largest sector by GGY was remote (online)m constituting 35.2 per cent of the overall market with £4.9bn GGY, an increase of 3.7 per cent on the previous period.
Within the remote sector, casino games generated £2.7bn with remote betting totalling just short of £2bn, dominated by football (38.9 per cent) and horseracing (28 per cent) betting.
£13.9bn Total gross gambling yield (GGY) of Britain's gambling industry
£4.9bn Total GGY for the online sector
35% Market share of the remote sector
106,366 Total number of employees in Britain's gambling industry
8,532 Total number of betting shops in Britain
Members can read the latest exclusive interviews, news analysis and comment available from 6pm daily on racingpost.com