Bookmaker Scotbet announces branch closures
19 July 2019, 17:36
The struggling bookmaker has blamed the £2 cap on fixed odds betting terminal (FOBT) stakes for the closure of 11 of its shops across Scotland.
Scotbet has announced it has gone into receivership and is to close 11 of its 41 Scottish branches, claiming the introduction of a maximum
stake on FOBT was "the straw which broke the camel's back".
The UK Government cut the maximum FOBT stake from £100 to £2 in April, which culture secretary Jeremy Wright described as a
"significant step forward in protecting vulnerable people".
However, the high street bookmaker has blamed the policy for its financial woes after being sold to Scotb123 Ltd as part of the receivership
deal in an attempt to save 127 jobs across the remaining 30 stores, while making 27 people redundant.
John Heaton, Scotb123 chairman, said: "I am pleased that we have managed to save 30 of the Scotbet shops.
"This has been a very difficult time and I am particularly sorry for the staff in the branches which have closed.
"Independent bookmakers have been hit hard by increased costs and the reduction of the FOBT stake was the straw which broke the camel's back."
Paul Dounis, RSM restructuring advisory partner and one of the joint receivers of the firm, added: "The business faced a number of changes
to the trading landscape, like other businesses in the sector, and was unable to continue to trade.
"We are working closely with Redundancy Payments Service to support those employees who have been made redundant to process claims
as quickly as possible."
Gambling Commission figures show the profit generated by FOBTs grew from £1.05 billion in 2009 to £1.83 billion in 2017, an increase of
Campaigners who supported the introduction of a cap described FOBTs as the "crack cocaine" of gambling, arguing that they let players lose
money too quickly and lead to addiction, social and financial problems.