The proposed cut on the maximum stake on FOBTs could negatively affect the company.
UK.- Roger Devlin, the new chairman of William Hill sent a letter to Matt Hancock, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Secretary, in which he said that the proposed cut on the maximum stake on FOBTs could leave the company vulnerable to a takeover bid.
“Consolidation within our sector continues and I would… not want to see the impact of a disproportionate triennial (review) outcome being a factor in the name of William Hill being added to the list of companies now in foreign ownership,” said Devlin in the letter obtained by Sky News and highlighted that the reform would risk tens of thousands of jobs across the gambling sector if the stake is cut from £100 to £2.
“At William Hill, we have a long and proud commitment to the UK and I do not want this to change,” added Devlin. The £2.5 billion worth company hasn’t received any formal bid offers, but it has had talks with its advisers regarding the subject.
Last week it was reported that Tracey Crouch, Sports Minister of the UK, was firm on her decision to reduce the stake from £100 to £2, ignoring the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) recommendation to allow £30 bets. A decision is expected to be announced this week.
A group of 40 MPs wrote to The Times and urged Prime Minister Theresa May to act: “FOBTs cause much social harm and huge losses for those who can least afford it. It is of profound concern that in last year there were more than 230,000 individual sessions in which a user lost over £1,000.” The letter insists that the government has a moral duty to reduce the maximum stake to £2.
KPMG analysts estimate that a £2 stake would result in 21,000 direct job losses and that half the betting shops would close. That would also result in an HM Treasury loss of £1.1 billion over the next three years, a £45 million loss to local authorities and £50 million to the British Racing every year.