The Gambling Commission has today published updated industry statics and it is very bad news for high street jobs and high street betting shops.
Betting shop numbers in the UK are now at their lowest level since Gambling Commission records began in 2009 and the pace of closures has rocketed from just over 100 per year to over 300 in just 6 months.
There are now just 8,502 bookies in the UK, compared to the 1960s when there were over 16,500 bookies on the high street. The number of gaming machines in bookies has also continued to decrease with the loss of 1,043 FOBTs. However the number of gaming machines in other venues such as arcades and other venues has increased by 4,318 in the past year.
The knock on impact of these shop closures mean that horse racing will lose out on nearly £10 million in media rights payments which are only paid on a per shop basis. The loss of so many retailers from the high street will also hit hard pressed local councils which stand to lose over £3 million in business rates.
Malcolm George, Chief Executive of the Association of British Bookmakers said:
“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.
“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.”
The Gambling Commission report can be found here: http://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/news-action-and-statistics/Statistics-and-research/Statistics/Industry-statistics.aspx
The Gambling Commission data for job losses just covers the period March 2016 to March 2017 when 70 betting shops closed. The total number of job losses related to the 342 shops that closed between March 2017 and September 2017 is likely to be closer to 2,000 jobs or more, however the data will not be available until the Commission publish their next report.