William Hill has reached out to around 2,000 landlords in Great Britain in hope of reducing its rents by 50%, due to the reduction in maximum stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
The operator has mailed personal copies to each landlord, with the new FOBT limit of £2, down from £100, starting on 1 April.
William Hill recently reported a loss of £722m ($956m) before tax for 2018, compared with a profit of £147m for the previous year. This was despite revenue rising 2% from £1.59bn to £1.62bn.
Ciaran O’Brien, William Hill’s Director of Corporate Communications, told Gambling Insider: “The stake cut was always going to have a significant impact on the business and we think it could close up to 900 shops, but we aren’t going to close anything immediately. We’ll look at long-term customer behaviour and what we seek through mitigation, one of which will be through rent reductions. We will see what happens over the next 18 months.
"We are trying and encourage the landlords, given the situation on the high street, that reduced rent is better than having an empty shop and this is what we will continue to discuss.”
O’Brien declined to comment when asked what William Hill’s total cost of rent in British shops currently is or what the total would be after a 50% reduction.