UK bookmaker William Hill has announced it has started a consultation process with retail colleagues to close around 700 licensed betting offices. The closures are anticipated to result in around 4,500 staff redundancies.

The company said it will seek to apply extensive voluntary redundancy and redeployment methods and will offer support to all colleagues throughout the process.

The closures are expected to commence before the end of this year, subject to the outcome of the consultation process.

The announcement follows the UK Government’s decision in May last year to reduce the maximum stake on B2 gaming products, also known as fixed-odds betting machines (FOBTs), from £100 to £2. William Hill said that it has since experienced a significant fall in gaming machine revenues.

Other UK leading bookmakers including Betfred and Ladbrokes Coral have also experienced a loss in income, due to the maximum stake reduction rule, resulting in plans to also cut jobs.

Sports betting and gaming group GVC Holdings said: “We now expect up to 900 shops to be at risk of closure, affecting up to 5,000 roles, over the next two years as a result of the reduction in maximum stakes on FOBTs to £2 that came into force on 1st April, and there are a number of shops that have been identified for closure as part of this process.

“This is not a decision we are taking lightly and we will be working hard to minimise the number of redundancies through re-deployment within the business, whilst offering redundancy terms enhanced beyond the statutory requirement.

“We will provide more detail when we announce our half one results in August.”

GVC previously estimated the closure of 1,000 shops and losses of 6,000 roles.