Ladbrokes Coral considers arcade possibility amidst FOBT uncertainty

Ladbrokes Coral considers arcade possibility amidst FOBT uncertainty

Thursday, March 1, 2018 Posted by Michael Lawson
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Analysts predict losses of over £450 million for the firm if the FOBT ruling is unfavourable.

Ladbrokes Coral is exploring the possibility of turning a number of its retail premises into Adult Gaming Centres (AGC), commonly known as arcades.

Given that it has the largest number of UK betting shops, the bookmaking giant would inevitably take a sizeable hit if the  the government’s pending triennial review crackdown on FOBTs wagering levels and sector advertising standards draws an unfavourable result.

The arcade option could offer a solution if a ‘nightmare judgement’ is made and FOBT maximum stakes are reduced from their current level of £100 to under £10. In that scenario,  Ladbrokes Coral’s 3000+ UK retail portfolio would become a corporate burden, with City analysts forecasting  upwards of £450 million in losses in annual FOBTs revenues.

Under UK gambling laws, Ladbrokes Coral may seek to convert a number of its betting shops into arcades which primarily service category C&D gaming machines (fruit machines).

Current AGC laws allow for licensed premises to operate up to 20% of their games inventory with category B3 & B4 gaming machines slot machines featuring limited stakes and fixed prizes.

A Ladbrokes retail spokesperson told SBC News on Tuesday: “Betting shops are the bread and butter of our high street offering. As with any business, we are continually looking for ways to better utilise our estate, including a limited trial of re-opening empty shops to improve our customer offer”.

Should Ladbrokes Coral move to convert a number of its betting shops to arcades, the FTSE betting firm would become the first UK industry operator to have LBO/AGC presence.

Totally Gaming says: This is a case of one of the world’s largest betting brands thinking on its feet and trying to find ways to protect against the dreaded nightmare FOBT scenario. If the impending government ruling decides to drastically reduce the maximum stakes of the fixed-odds terminals, it’s clear that the UK retail betting sector will take a serious hit. Ladbrokes Coral may well have found a way to soften the blow.

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