William Hill to Close About 700 Betting Shops in UK

Wednesday’s news that William Hill will close about 700 betting shops over the next few months, around a third of its retail estate, puts the jobs of 4,500 company staff at risk (and up to 12,000 in the industry) and will also mean a cut of around £21m in media rights payments to Britain’s racecourses, on top of an unexpected £17m drop in the money collected by the Levy Board in 2018-19, which was revealed in May.

Only the staff who are going to lose their jobs can be seen as unfortunate or blameless, however, as the 15-year story of the disastrous decision to allow high-speed, high-stakes roulette into Britain’s betting shops draws towards what was always likely to be a painful conclusion.

William Hill, along with the other major chains, was allowed to suck billions of pounds from what were already deprived areas the length and breadth of Britain, when Labour’s 2005 Gambling Act legitimised the gaming machines which they had been quietly introducing to their shops for ….

Does Horse Racing Need To Make Changes To Keep Up With Sports Betting?

A gambler can walk into the Meadowlands Racetrack or Monmouth Park in New Jersey — or at racetracks in other states such as Pennsylvania and West Virginia — and go to the sportsbook there and place bets on sporting events. The “hold” by the books averages around 5%.

Or the gambler can make a wager on a horse race, either happening at that track or elsewhere via a simulcast TV feed. The hold for that bet is around 15-20%.

Is that a problem, now that sports betting increasingly is going hand-in-hand with horse racing?

The Thoroughbred Idea Foundation, a not-for-profit industry advocacy group, said it is, in a provocative report published earlier this year.

“Racing’s existing customers, including our best customers, will be wooed by fabulously funded sports betting agencies,” the article reads, “while future generations of potential customers will be avalanched by customized fixed-odds betting products featuring their favorite leagues, teams, and players. The opportunities will be endless.

“Over roughly the next two to three years, racing must adapt to these new market conditions — accepting fixed-odds and exchange wagering on its product; developing a new funding model to support the sport in light of this disruptive, well-financed and aggressive competition; significantly boosting and improving our marketing efforts; and innovating to create new types of bets for customers who will soon be taken by agile, forward-thinking sports betting outlets. The future of horse racing …