ales from games in Ladbrokes and Coral owner’s UK retail arm were down 19% in the three months to 30 June, as the bookmaker has been hit hard by the government decision to slash the maximum stake allowed on controversial fixed-odds betting terminals or ‘FOBTs’ from £100 (USD 124) to £2 (USD 2.5) a spin.
As reported by Yahoo Finance, rival William Hill blamed the clampdown as it announced thousands of jobs and hundreds of stores were at risk earlier this month, with plans to close around a third of shops.
But GVC said the 19% like-for-like sales decline was better than it had feared, as some punters had started using alternative sport betting terminals instead.
The expansion of the bookmaker’s online gambling services also appears to be paying off for the company and offsetting its UK high street woes. Its overall gaming sales were up 3% in the quarter and 5% in the first half of the year.
The bookmaker reported fast growth in online gambling, with sales up 16%. GVC also owns brands including bwin, Crystalbet and Eurobe, and has licenses to operate in more than 20 countries.
GVC and other companies have also been expanding into the US market, benefiting from looser regulations on sports betting.
But the company had warned in September last year the government’s curbs would spark the closure of up to 1,000 shops and cost it a £130m hit to its earnings in 2020.
Games on fixed-odds machines have gradually started to dominate high street betting shops in Britain over the past two decades, with customers attracted by the hundreds of pounds on offer in the jackpot.
But the terminals are highly controversial, with campaigners calling the allegedly highly addictive machines the “crack cocaine of gambling” and claiming they heavily exploit problem gamblers.
The clampdown by the government in the face of heavy opposition from the industry saw limits introduced earlier that several bookmakers claim threatens the survival of thousands of branches.