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Shares in gambling companies hit following fears online stakes may be reduced

William Hill: shares were down by close of trading on Thursday
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Bookmaker shares fell sharply on Thursday after it emerged the Gambling Commission had committed to decide in the next six months on whether stakes for online gaming should be reduced.

The regulator's chief executive Neil McArthur made the pledge when appearing before the influential Gambling Related Harm All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Wednesday.

Last November more than a billion pounds was wiped from gambling stocks after the APPG produced a report calling for the stakes for online casino games to be brought in line with those on FOBTs in betting shops, which were reduced to £2 in April.

After the latest news, William Hill shares were down by 7.68 per cent at 181p when trading closed on Thursday, shares in Ladbrokes Coral's parent company GVC Holdings fell seven per cent at 866.4p, and Paddy Power Betfair's parent company Flutter Entertainment's share price was down 2.48 per cent at 8,564p.

A spokesperson for the Gambling Commission said: "We said last October that we would be looking at online stake limits as part of our work to reduce the risks of gambling-related harm. 

"This work is in addition to us focusing on VIP practices, advertising technology and game design. We will publish our assessment and next steps for online stakes and further protections later this year."

The government has said it will review the 2005 Gambling Act, "to make sure it is fit for the modern age".

Trade body the Betting and Gaming Council said in a statement: "We want to have a betting and gaming industry in this country which is not just the best in class, but which also ensures we don’t drive people towards betting on harmful unregulated black markets.

"We're working hard with the Gambling Commission and with the government on their review to ensure effective regulation."

Analysts at Goodbody said that since the APPG published its report "this issue has seen increased interest from investors".

Goodbody questioned whether a limit would be introduced and also whether it would be as low as £2.

However, they added: "Certain politicians may not rest until a significant stake reduction is introduced."

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Certain politicians may not rest until a significant stake reduction is introduced
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