William Hill requests a 50% rent cut to offset potential FOBT losses

In a bid to offset any potential revenue losses incurred through the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) ruling, William Hill has requested that its landlords reduce its rents by 50 per cent.

As reported by Property Week, an open letter was issued to 2,000 landlords across the country at the beginning of the month requesting the rent cuts, effective immediately. It comes as the bookmaker aims to avoid the closure of up to 900 of its 2,300 shops on the UK high street.

“The change in regulations will mean that many shops will see costs rise significantly at a time when revenues will decline by in excess of 50 per cent in many cases,” the company wrote in the letter.

“We are therefore asking all our landlords to help us maintain our position at William Hill as the leading gambling operator on the high street so that our shops can continue to offer a great service to our customers and help maintain the viability of our high streets.

“We can’t afford to wait for things to happen as this will simply result in the creeping closure of more and more shops.”

The new FOBT limits are set to come into play on 1 April, with the stakes slashed from £100 to £2. While a large portion of gambling has moved online and abroad for the operator, the terminals still constitute a considerable proportion of its revenues.

The news comes as the bookmaker reported a turbulent year in 2018, with operating losses of £721 m. The operator announced that it had implemented the necessary adjustments for its retail offering to overcome the upcoming enforcement of £2 FOBTs stake limit.

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