Ladbrokes responds to stake speculation

Bookmakers slump on government crackdown fears

Shares in William Hill were trading more than 13 per cent lower on Monday morning, while shares in Ladbrokes Coral slumped more than 10 per cent. Patrick Coffey, an analyst at Barclays, wrote in a note to clients that such a move "had not been factored in" by the United Kingdom gambling companies.

The Sunday Times reported that an "overwhelming" response to the consultation had persuaded ministers to reduce the maximum stake to £2.

MILAN, Jan 22 (Reuters) - British shares steadied on Monday, supported by gains in the energy sector, though double-digit falls in gambling companies on fears of a government clampdown weighed on that sector.

"This scenario is not factored into the share prices of retail exposed bookmakers in our view".

But the claim was dismissed as the latest "rumour and speculation" by Ladbrokes chief executive Jim Mullen.

A spokesman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: "We are clear that FOBT stakes will be cut to ensure we have a safe and sustainable industry where vulnerable people and children are protected".


"The industry has also always made it clear that a cut to stakes will have serious consequences - resulting in shop closures which will ultimately affect jobs, tax revenue and the funding of racing".

And a spokesperson for the Campaign for Fairer Gambling said: "Once the government has reviewed the evidence, we are confident it will decide £2 a spin to be the most appropriate level".

Most of the day's excitement was to be found on the FTSE 250, with the FTSE 100 down just two points at 7,729.

Ocado (LON:OCDO) shares were the other significant movers this morning, up 12.1%, as the online grocer sealed another worldwide partnership with Canada's second biggest supermarket chain Sobeys.

'Ocado is really delivering the goods for shareholders, after clinching another deal to licence out is online delivery platform, ' said Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

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