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William Hill Kent store closures expected as 700 branches to shut

One of the high streets biggest bookmakers has confirmed it is to close around 700 of its outlets.

William Hill says a consultation with its staff is under way, with 4,500 jobs at risk.

It blames the government's decision to reduce the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals from £100 to £2 in April - an issue which Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch heavily campaigned for. She resigned in protest when the government attempted to delay the move.

WATCH: Jobs at risk in Kent-based stores

It has stores across the county, among them Chatham, Canterbury, Ashford, Sheerness, Gillingham, Dartford, Whitstable, Sittingbourne, Tunbridge Wells, Herne Bay, Margate, Dover, Folkestone and Tonbridge. The location of stores to close has yet to be confirmed.

A statement from the company said: "Since then the company has seen a significant fall in gaming machine revenues, in line with the guidance given when the government’s decision was announced in May 2018.

William Hill is to close 700 of its outlets
William Hill is to close 700 of its outlets

"A large number of redundancies is anticipated with 4,500 colleagues at risk.

"The group will look to apply voluntary redundancy and redeployment measures extensively and will be providing support to all colleagues throughout the process.

Tracey Crouch resigned as sports minister in row over fixed-odds betting machines
Tracey Crouch resigned as sports minister in row over fixed-odds betting machines

"Subject to the outcome of the consultation process, shop closures are likely to begin before the end of the year."

Last month an exclusive investigation by KentOnline revealed a flaw with a gambling exclusion scheme at betting shops across Canterbury, Whitstable and Herne Bay.

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