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Uttoxeter betting shops under threat

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BETTING shops in Uttoxeter could be under threat of closure, following the increase in betting machine tax levied on the industry.

Coral, in Bradley Street, and William Hill, in Market Place, are both under threat of closure, after it was announced there would be an increase in duty on fixed-odds betting machines.

David Stevens, press officer for Coral, said: “Due to the significant and wholly unfair increase in the rate of machine tax levied on the UK betting industry by this government, unfortunately some of our 1,800 shops will become unprofitable from next March, so we will be forced to close a number of shops.

“The exact number of shops to be closed is currently under review.”

Rupert Adams, press officer for William Hill, said: “We are still at the consultation stage and are trying to minimise the impact on the business and any individuals who will be affected by the closures.

“Should branches be closed, we are attempting to relocate those individuals across the retail estate.”

A spokesman for Uttoxeter Racecourse said: “Any measure which secures racing’s future income is welcome and along with others in racing, ARC and Uttoxeter Racecourse will engage positively with bookmakers and other stakeholders.

“It’s definitely a positive thing for racecourse.”

William Hill has said it will close 109 shops across the country this year, putting 430 jobs at risk.

The government announced it was raising the duty on these machines to 25 per cent from 20 per cent.

William Hill said the decision to shut stores was ‘disappointing’ but the duty increase made the action ‘necessary’.

It also said operating profits fell 14 per cent in the first quarter of the year.

William Hill said its results had been hit by ‘two substantial loss making weeks’ following major wins for punters betting on football.

However, it said it hoped that ‘increased customer confidence’ from the wins would boost business, especially with the World Cup starting this month.

The betting industry called the move ‘ill-considered’ following the announcement in the Budget, with William Hill saying the increase would cost it £22 million a year, which has led to the closure announcements.

Chief executive of William Hill Ralph Topping said: “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.”

More information on the firm can be found by heading online to www.williamhill.com

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