Ladbrokes CEO Warns On Slashing Stakes On Betting Machines

Business News

The chief executive of Ladbrokes Coral Group PLC, Jim Mullen, has warned that slashing the maximum size of stakes on fixed odds betting machines could force the closure of up to 1,000 bookmakers, according to the Evening Standard.

Earlier this year, the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals All Party Parliamentary Group released the findings of a six-month inquiry into the impact of fixed odds betting machines in communities across the UK.

Concerns had been raised that the machines were both “highly addictive” and an anomaly in the regulatory framework, with punters at risk of losing GBP100 every 20 seconds.

The group’s report found that there is now a ‘prima facie’ case for significantly reducing the maximum stake that can be wagered on a fixed odds betting machine, putting forward a case for the maximum stake to be reduced to GBP2. The maximum stake currently stands at GBP100.

The UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport is now conducting an official review into those findings, and will release the results in April.

However, Ladbrokes Coral CEO Mullen warned that slashing stakes could cost as many as 4,300 jobs in London – almost half of the 9,000 employed in betting shops in the capital – as up to 1,000 bookies are forced to close, the Evening Standard reported on Monday.

The machines account for half of Ladbrokes’ profit, the newspaper said.

“In London alone, potential shop closures could hit nearly 1,000, with nearly half of all employees, 4,300, losing their jobs, and a potential tax loss to the Exchequer from these London shops alone of GBP230 million by 2020,” Mullen reportedly said.

“The future for high-street betting shops is bleak. The challenges we now face, in my opinion, pose the most serious threat to the existence of bookmakers and the key part we play in communities from Brent Cross to New Cross and throughout the UK,” the CEO added.