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William Hill seeks 50% rent cut on shops due to FOBT limits

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William Hill has contacted around 2,000 landlords in the United Kingdom with requests to cut rental costs by up to 50 per cent.

The move comes as British bookmakers prepare for massive profit losses when the new limits for fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) come into effect on April 1.

Punters will be restricted to maximum bets of £2, down from the previous limit of £100.

Ciaran O’Brien, Director of Corporate Communications at William Hill, told reporters this week that hundreds of shops are under threat as a result.

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“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,” said Ciaran O’Brien, Director of Corporate Communications at William Hill.

“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.”

William Hill reported a £722 million before tax for 2018, despite revenue rising from £1.59 billion to £1.62 billion.

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