Official figures from the Gambling Commission showed a small decline in the number of betting shops since March 2018. The number of shops has decreased by 1.5 per cent and now stands at 8,423.
The figures are confirmation of the effects that the changes to Fixed Odds Betting Terminal (FOBTs) regulations are having on the retail betting industry but the betting companies but decisions around potential shop closures are yet to fully feed through, so uncertainty for betting shop workers continues.
Tom Blenkinsop, Operations Director for Community, the betting shop workers union said:
“Clearly there is a reappraisal of how damaging these regulatory changes were first anticipated to be. Nonetheless, our members are still being dragged from pillar to post and put at risk regarding their livelihoods. We believe the industry should engage in real meaningful consultation with its workforce and allow constructive assistance with ourselves to help fully mitigate a process which is becoming clearly unnecessary as implied by the industries own recent bullish statements.”
Earlier this month, Kenny Alexander, Chief Executive of Ladbrokes Coral’s parent company GVC was bullish, saying “we have had an excellent start to the year with strong momentum across all divisions continuing into the second quarter.”
Ladbrokes Corals calculate their losses are to be £40m better than first expected for the first two years post FOBT regulation changes.
William Hill recently revealed their revenues from FOBTs had fallen by around 40 per cent since the gaming machines stakes were cut to £2 at the start of April but said this was in line with their expectations. The company also reported ‘a degree of progress’ in attempts to get landlords to cut rents to alleviate the cost pressures on Hill’s betting shops.