The ABB’s chief executive Malcolm George says the latest set of stats from the Gambling Commission signal “very bad news” for Britain’s retail sector.
The regulator revealed a drop in UK betting shops of some four per- cent in only the last six months. There are now only 8,502 betting outlets in Britain; the lowest level since records began in 2009.
“The pace at which betting shops are closing is very bad news for the future of a retailer that has been a fixture of the high street for over 55 years,” said George.
“The government are currently consulting on gaming machines in betting shops. Any significant change in regulation could lead to over half of all shops closing and the loss of a further 21,000 jobs while doing nothing to address problem gambling.”
Running counter to shop closures the GC also notes a 1.8 percent rise in the total number of gaming machines, to 182,916. George also flagged this trend as a concern, stating that as the number of FOBTs has fallen along with shop closures, by 1,403, the added number of machines must be attributed to arcades and casinos.
Nevertheless, while the number of FOBTs fell by three percent in the year to April, the overall FOBT yield has risen by an inverse 3.2 percent – pulling in £1.8bn for bookmakers over the year.