Ladbrokes owner GVC reveals hit from gambling machines crackdown

Ladbrokes and Coral owner GVC has seen sales from its betting shops tumble by nearly a fifth after the recent crackdown on controversial fixed-odds betting terminals.

Britain’s biggest bookmaker, which has more than 3,400 betting shops, said UK retail net gaming revenues dropped 19% in its second quarter to June 30.

This was driven by a 39% plunge in UK like-for-like machine sales following the Government’s move to slash the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) to £2 in April.

But the firm said the UK hit was not as bad as feared, while a surge in online revenues and international business helped offset the betting shop woes to leave overall net gaming revenues 3% higher in the quarter and 5% up in the first half.

Chief executive Kenneth Alexander said: “The transition to a post-£2 stakes-cut environment in UK retail is progressing very well and we believe the Ladbrokes Coral estate is best placed to take market share.”

Bookmakers have been hammered by the FOBT crackdown, which has been compounded by challenging high street conditions.

William Hill announced earlier this month that it was axing around 700 betting shops across the UK, putting 4,500 jobs at risk.

GVC has previously said up to 1,000 of its bookies are at risk of closure due to the stake cut.

In its trading update, GVC confirmed the boost from online gambling, with website net gaming revenues up 16% in the second quarter and 17% over the first half despite a strong performance a year earlier from the football world cup.

UK online sales jumped 19%, it added.

European net gaming revenues were also a bright spot, up 12% in the second quarter.