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Ladbrokes Coral owner reduces number of betting shops at risk of closure to 900

Ladbrokes' parent company GVC could shut 900 betting shops
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Ladbrokes Coral's parent company says it now expects 900 of its betting shops could close over two years as a result of the FOBT stake cut, ten per cent fewer than previous estimates.

When the government announced last year it would be reducing the maximum stake on the machines to £2 from £100, GVC Holdings said 1,000 betting offices would be at risk of closure.

However, in May GVC said the impact of the changes had not been as severe as first thought. Having originally said earnings would be hit by £145 million in 2020 and by £120m the following year, GVC said the impact would instead be £120m and £105m respectively.

Reacting to the news of William Hill's closure plans, a statement from GVC said: "We now expect up to 900 shops to be at risk of closure over the next two years as a result of the reduction in maximum stakes on FOBTs to £2 that came into force on April 1, and there are a number of shops that have been identified for closure as part of this process.

"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. We will provide more detail when we announce our H1 results in August."

According to Gambling Commission statistics released last month, Ladbrokes had 1,849 betting shops at the end of September, while Coral had a further 1,540.

Industry sources have suggested that 200 betting shops alone closed across Britain's retail sector last month and it is believed that 140 of them were under the GVC banner. However, the company would not comment on those figures.

Earlier this year Betfred owner Fred Done revealed the company might have to close between 400 and 500 of its more than 1,600 betting shops as a result of the cut in stakes.

Reacting to the news from William Hill, Betfred's chief operating officer Mark Stebbings said: "Unfortunately a significant number of shop closures throughout the industry were inevitable following recent changes in FOBT legislation.

"We are currently still assessing the full impact of this legislation on our retail estate and working extremely hard to keep any shop closures and potential job losses at Betfred to a minimum.”

Paddy Power have said in the past they would not close any of their 320-strong retail estate as a result of the stake cut and reiterated that position on Thursday.

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We now expect up to 900 shops to be at risk of closure over the next two years
E.W. Terms