Belfast Telegraph

William Hill bookies under threat in Northern Ireland as huge cull looms across UK

William Hill plans to close around 700 betting shops across the UK (PA)
William Hill plans to close around 700 betting shops across the UK (PA)

By Margaret Canning and PA

Around 10 of William Hill’s 33 Northern Ireland stores are at risk of closure after the bookmaker announced plans to axe a total of 700 betting shops around the UK.

The group warned a “large number of redundancies” are expected and it has begun consultation meetings with the 4,500 affected staff.  The bookmaker employs around 200 people here. 

Shop closures are due to start by the end of the year.

William Hill blamed the closures on the Government’s decision to slash the maximum stake on controversial fixed-odds betting terminals (FOTBs) to £2 in April, which has hammered bookmakers’ sales.

On its store closure plans, the group said: “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.”

The industry’s trade union blasted the closures as “devastating news” for workers and called on the Government to offer support.

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The closures will see William Hill’s 2,282 shop estate shrink by close to a third - which could mean the closure of around eight of its 26 shops here.

It said it was too early to confirm which shops will shut until consultations are complete.

William Hill — which has 16,000 employees across the group — said it would look to offer voluntary redundancy and redeploy affected staff “extensively” where possible, “providing support to all colleagues throughout the process”.

Belfast Telegraph Digital