Diversified Entain rides out 2020 retail storms

GVC suggests 900 of its betting shops will close

GVC Holdings has responded to the news of William Hill’s shop closures by outlining that 900 of its own Ladbrokes and Coral shops could face closure, which is ten per cent lower than its previous estimates made in April. 

Similar to William Hill, GVC has attributed the potential closures to the FOBT stake cut brought in on 1 April of this year. 

In a statement from GVC, it explained: “We now expect up to 900 shops to be at risk of closure, affecting up to 5,000 roles, over the next two years as a result of the reduction in maximum stakes on FOBTs to £2 that came into force on 1st April, and there are a number of shops that have been identified for closure as part of this process.

“This is not a decision we are taking lightly and we will be working hard to minimise the number of redundancies through redeployment within the business, whilst offering redundancy terms enhanced beyond the statutory requirement.”

GVC has previously stated that the initial impact of the FOBT legislation had not been as severe as first predicted. The group first predicted that it would take a £145m hit to revenues in 2020, and £120m in 2021, however it is now thought that the impact would instead be £120m and £105m respectively.

As it stands, Ladbrokes currently owns 1,849 retail premises, while Coral holds a further 1,540. GVC has stated that it ‘will provide more detail when we announce our H1 results in August’.

The announcement comes at a time when the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has stressed that the gambling industry has had ‘ample’ time to prepare for the impact that the FOBT legislation would have. 

A DCMS spokesperson said: “The gambling industry has had over a year to make preparations for this change, including to mitigate job losses. We now expect them to provide the right support to any staff affected by planned shop closures.

“By cutting the maximum FOBT stake from £100 a spin to £2, we are helping to stop extreme losses by those who can least afford them.”

Sharing his views on his personal Twitter account, Chief Communications for William Hill Ciaran O’Brien expressed that the announcement of closures was ‘one of the saddest in my career.’

He anticipates that the gambling industry will ‘move on’ from the closures, however recognises that the industry has come under heavy criticism.

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