Shop Closings ‘Inevitable,’ Says Gala Coral

Gala Coral says the British government’s crackdown on the spread of electronic table games in betting shops will force it to close many of its outlets, and that will cost jobs. William Hill and Ladbrokes say they’ll do the same as debate continues to rage over the proliferation of the games.

UK gaming giant Gala Coral said betting shop closures are “inevitable” in the wake of tough new measures by the government to curb the proliferation of the shops in high streets nationwide along with the lucrative electronic table games they contain.

The table games, known as fixed odds betting terminals, comprise the majority of bookmakers’ revenues, but critics contend they prey on the poor and those vulnerable to gambling addiction, and the government’s crackdown includes a tax increase on FOBT win from 15 percent to 25 percent.

Coral said that despite taking steps to address concerns about problem gambling through a new industry-sponsored code of conduct, the government “has continued to react to scaremongering and misleading information about the impact of FOBTs on problem gambling”.

“As a result of the announced changes, and consistent with statements made by our competitors, the group regards shop closures, and therefore job losses, as inevitable,” the company said.

Rivals William Hill and Ladbrokes have both announced similar plans to downsize.

Gala Coral’s retail division saw EBITDA fall 19 percent to £38.1 million in the most recent quarter compared with the same period last year as a result of unfavorable football results and the phasing of machine content costs, the company said.