Thursday 4th July 2019, saw William Hill, giant British bookmaker, announce the closure of 700 out of its 2,300 betting outlets in the UK. The closure is projected to lead to 4,500 job losses.
The news comes in the wake of new rules coming into effect which would see the slashing of maximum stakes on FOBTs (Fixed-odds betting terminals). The rules have been termed as ‘blight on society’ by the politicians.
FOBT is a kind of a touch-screen video betting machine that offers a variety of games to the players which include simulated horse racing and greyhounds racing, slots, bingo and blackjack. However, the most played game on the machine is Roulette.
The machines have allowed the players to bet up to $100 per spin. 1 spin is equivalent to 20 seconds. However, the government stepped in with the new rules which reduced the maximum stakes per spin. The new rules will now have a maximum of $2 for a spin. This is the main reason the reported closure and potential job losses are being reported.
Other bookmakers closing doors
The land-based bookmakers have for a long time depended on the machines for raising the revenues after the rise of online betting and the decline of horse racing betting that is being recorded in the UK. The land-based bookmakers have depended up to 50% of the revenue they win.
There are other closures expected to follow suit after William Hill’s closure and it is estimated to affect a quarter of the 9,000 Britain’s bookmaking shops. Ladbrokes, which is the biggest land-based bookmaker in the UK will also see the closure of 1,000 shops in two years according to a leaked memo published by The Guardian. The move is seen to lead to more than 5,000 job losses.
William Hill announced that the closure would happen before the year ends and that all the staff had been briefed about the move. Speaking about the potential job losses and how they would handle the situation, the bookmaker stated that it would look to ‘apply redundancy and redeployment measures extensively and will be providing support to all colleagues throughout the process.’
An employee who was contacted by the bookmaker to be informed about the closure of his outlet termed the move as ‘really disrespectful.’ The employee who wanted anonymity said the move came as a shock to many of the members as there was assurance through the months about job security. He finished by saying there would be thousands of people rendered jobless and some had their lives already turned upside down.
William Hill heat in the US
With the move going against them in the UK, the bookmaker has been presented another opportunity in the UK and with the US Supreme Court lifting a ban that prohibited sports betting outside Nevada, William Hill has been making its presence felt on the large US market.
William Hill was a leader in Nevada where it had several betting outlets, kiosks at bars, truck shops and 7-Elevens through the state. The new laws in the UK and US present a further opportunity for William Hill to ‘explode.’
September 2018, the bookmaker signed a 25-year deal with Eldorado Resorts which would see the William Hill operate Eldorado’s casinos’ sports betting. Last month has seen Eldorado and Caesar Entertainment forge a $17.6 Billion deal which would see the merged company operate over 70 properties in 16 states. William Hill would love to be part of that.