William Hill to close 109 UK betting shops after tax move

Friday 25 April 2014 16.16
William Hill said its operating profit had fallen by 14% in the first quarter of 2014
William Hill said its operating profit had fallen by 14% in the first quarter of 2014

William Hill said today it would close 109 of its British betting shops this year, blaming the decision on a tax increase on high stakes gambling machines. 

The firm, Britain's largest bookmaker, said operating profit had fallen by 14% in the first quarter of 2014, hit by big payouts to gamblers on two weekends on which many of the top soccer sides had won. 

William Hill said the closure of the betting shops would put 420 jobs at risk and result in exceptional costs of up to £24m. 

"This is particularly disappointing as, through the economic downturn, we have worked hard to grow our retail base but this further planned increase in indirect taxation makes this action necessary," chief executive Ralph Topping said.

William Hill has around 2,400 betting shops.
              
The company believes increased taxes on high stakes gambling machines in its betting shops are likely to cost it around £22m when they come into force next year.
              
The government announced the planned increase in tax to 25% from 20% in its March budget.