United Kingdom

Ladbrokes and Coral to close hundreds of shops as gamblers move online

Ladbrokes and Coral will close hundreds of bookies this year after gamblers flocked online during the pandemic.

Owner Entain said it could close up to 300 of its 3,000 shops in 2021 after a boom in online betting.

The warning came as the company posted profits of £174.7million in 2020 having made a loss of £164.4million the previous year.

Ladbrokes and Coral owner, Entain, said it could close up to 300 of its 3,000 bookies in 2021 following a boom in online betting

Business was boosted by surging growth in its US joint venture and the switch to online gambling.

Rival William Hill – which is being bought by US casino giant Caesars Group in a £2.9billion deal – said its profits crashed 91 per cent to £9.1million as its 1,414 betting shops were hit by repeated lockdowns and disruption to sports events.

Record numbers of gamblers have taken to betting using a smartphone or computer while bookmakers have been closed, and there are concerns some may never return to the High Street.

Earlier this week Peter Jackson, chief executive of Flutter, which owns Paddy Power and Skybet, predicted that ‘an awful lot’ of High Street betting shops would close this year.

Entain finance chief Rob Wood told analysts: ‘We have around 100 closures per year in the UK from a starting point of 3,000. It wouldn’t surprise me if we saw two or three years of closure come into one this year.

‘There is a reason for retail to exist. Customers like the social side and watching sport on a big screen, so we’re hopeful we’ll see most of our customers come back.’

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