£2 limit on terminals to close shops, warn bookies
Britain's biggest bookies have warned of potential betting shop closures and job losses as the move to slash stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) to £2 is set to hit profits.
Shares were initially sent slumping across the sector as the big players estimated the extent of lost revenues and earnings, although some of the stock losses were later clawed back.
William Hill, which has 19 branches in Northern Ireland, makes more than half of its retail revenues from FOBTs, said that the "unprecedented" decision could see around 900 of its betting shops become loss-making, with a proportion at risk of closure after the new £2 limit comes into force.
The group said the stake cut could reduce annual earnings by between £70m and £100m and estimates it will cut its total gaming net revenues by as much as 45%.
The Association of British Bookmakers predicted more than 4,000 shops could close across the entire sector, with the loss of 21,000 jobs.