Ladbrokes has warned its will make job cuts and store closures after the Government’s surprise tax hike for bookmakers.
Chief executive Richard Glynn said the UK’s second biggest bookie would examine further closures among its 2,250 high street stores in 2015 on top of the 50 already slated to shut this year.
Rising machine gaming duty will cost Ladbrokes £19.5 million this year and its review comes after rival William Hill announced plans to cut 420 jobs with the closure of 109 shops.
The Coalition was today expected to unveil a fresh planning crackdown on betting shops, allowing councils to vet their applications and block new shops amid a political storm over “crack cocaine” betting terminals.
Glynn said: “It is inevitable there will be more [closures], it is inevitable any further regulation will cause job losses. Sadly, politicians are hurting ordinary hard-working people but that seems to be the order of the day.” Ladbrokes has 14,000 staff in the UK.
He added: “We want social responsibility but it has to be evidence-based. The Gambling Commission’s own survey shows problem gambling is stable at a very low rate and machines don’t feature in the top causes. We are saying enough is enough.”
The Association of British Bookmakers’ code of conduct on gaming machines, including time and money based reminders for players and staff intervention, has had a “measurable, adverse impact” on machine takings so far, Glynn added.
Poor football results, as a host of favourites won, more than halved overall operating profits to £18.4 million in the first quarter despite a better Grand National, won by 25/1 shot Pineau de Re. But the firm also showed signs of a turnaround in Ladbrokes’ struggling digital operation as amounts staked online jumped 60% over the quarter. Mobile staking almost doubled and its upgraded website handled 120,000 users for the National in one of its biggest tests before the World Cup. The dividend will be held at 8.9p. Shares eased 0.9p to 142.5p.