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UK betting-shop chain William Hill has announced plans to close 109 shops during 2014 due to the recent hike in Machine Games Duty.
Games Duty on machines that charge more than GBP5 (USD8.4) to play – known as Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, or B2 machines – was raised from 20 percent to 25 percent in last month's budget, to take effect from March 1, 2015. HM Treasury said that the move would "bring their profitability more into line with other gaming machines on the high street." The Government is also considering extra regulation of the use of machines due to concerns about gambling addiction.
At the time, William Hill said that the higher rate would cost the company an extra GBP16m, based on 2013 levels.
William Hill CEO Ralph Topping said in a statement that the budget announcement had prompted a shop profitability review, and that 420 jobs are at risk. He said: "This is particularly disappointing as, through the economic downturn, we have worked hard to grow our retail base, but this further planned increase in indirect taxation makes this action necessary."
William Hill has frequently criticised the UK's gambling tax regime. In 2010, it moved its telebetting operations to Gibraltar complaining that it was "impossible" to compete with offshore telebetting firms. Last August, it said that it would consider launching a legal challenge against UK proposals to introduce a new 15 percent "place of consumption" profit tax on online gambling from December 2014.
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