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Ladbrokes to close 50 high street outlets this year

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Gaming / Gambling Business

Gaming / Gambling Business

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  • 1. Ladbrokes to close 50 high street outlets this year By Andrea Felsted, Senior Retail Correspondent ©Bloomberg Ladbrokes is poised to close up to 50 shops this year as a backlash against the number of betting shops on the high street intensifies. The UK bookmaker said it planned to close a net 40-50 betting shops this year – closures less a small number of openings – after adding a net 200 shops over the past two years. The move comes amid increasing pressure on bookmakers over fixed odds betting terminals in shops. The betting terminals, which account for £1.5bn a year of revenues to the industry, are the subject of scrutiny from politicians of all parties because of concerns about potential addiction among customers. The government is awaiting research on the possible effects of fixed-odds betting terminals – which can take bets of £300 a minute – on customer behaviour. In the meantime it is demanding that bookmakers implement harm-reduction measures. A store closure programme by bookmakers would be a sharp reversal of the trend seen over recent years, when a large number of betting shops have opened on high streets, often taking over units vacated by retailers. According to the latest figures from The Local Data Company, a retail information provider, and PwC, the professional services group, betting shops are one of the few outlets increasing on British high streets. The number of betting shops rose by 2.18 per cent in the first half of 2013, while the number of photographic shops, video stores, shoe shops and furniture stores all declined. Ladbrokes’ move also raises another potential concern for the British high street. As the bookmaker has been opening stores in high footfall areas for the past couple of years, it could afford to close some in secondary locations possibly putting more pressure on more marginal high streets. The developments also come at a delicate time for Ladbrokes, which is battling to turn round its digital business.
  • 2. Last September, Ladbrokes warned on profits after results at its digital division fell short of expectations. The company said at the time that digital profits for 2013 would be between £10m and £14m, compared with a consensus market forecast of £27.5m. Almost a year ago, the bookmaker formed a partnership with gambling software provider Playtech, hoping to bolster its online gaming. But chief executive Richard Glynn said he had failed to appreciate the impact of trying to implement the new Playtech platform alongside the existing one powered by Microgaming, which provides Ladbrokes‘ online casino and poker games.