William Hill to close 109 British betting shops

By Joe Lo
William Hill, Britain's largest bookmaker, today blamed a recent tax rise on high-stakes gambling machines for the need to close 109 betting shops.

Machine Games Duty was introduced in February 2013 and last month increased from 20% to 25% on all machines where gamblers can win more than £10 or stake more than 20 pence.

Ralph Topping, chief executive, said today that the closures were "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”.

He said that this will put around 420 jobs at risk but did not say which shops may be closed or whether redundancy will be compulsory.

William Hill net revenue for retail machines in Q1 was up 11% on the same quarter last year, although overall company operating profit fell 14%.

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