Independent betting shops are feeling the squeeze as they fight a two-front war against regulatory changes and increased operating costs, according to the chief executive of one regional firm.
Howard Chisholm of Chisholm Bookmakers, which operates over 15 sites throughout the north- east of England, said that upcoming stake restrictions on B2 machines posed “the highest risk” to his business, as it already struggles to meet with increases in the National Living Wage minimum, not to mention live data costs associated with Sports Information Services (SIS).
The remarks came as the forward to the company’s annual accounts for 2018: a period which saw the small chain close a number of locations and post a loss of £132,000 – that’s compared with a net profit of £113,000 for the preceding year.
Chisholm acknowledged the results had been “disappointing,” but argued that the imminent curb on FOBTs would do little to prevent the potential necessity for the further shop closures.
“An evidence based decision would not have reduced maximum stakes in the B2 category to below £40,” he argued. “But there was considerable pressure from abolitionists in Westminster to set the stake at a level which attempts to close the maximum number of betting shops.”