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William Hill accused of ‘cynical’ strategies in excess of cafes serving hot foods in its shops

William Hill has been accused of deploying “cynical” methods to hold men and women gambling right after the bookmaker introduced an in-shop cafe offering hot food items, with some merchandise less costly than at McDonald’s.

At one particular branch of the bookmaker in the Arndale purchasing centre in central Manchester signage marketed a “WH Cafe”, promoting food deals, burgers and breakfast.

The advertising incorporated a special offer for a sausage and egg muffin at £2, much less than the equivalent menu solution at McDonald’s, although the Significant Al’s Chicken Burger is £2.50, once again cheaper than a McChicken Sandwich.

William Hill is tests the strategy at five of its 1,048 betting retailers and claimed it was a response to buyer requests alternatively than an endeavor to continue to keep gamblers in shops for longer.

Bookmakers have normally sold snacks and provided tea and espresso, occasionally cost-free of cost, to frequent punters betting on horse races or participating in machines this kind of as the controversial fastened-odds betting terminals.

A menu at a branch of William Hill in Manchester. Photograph: Joel Goodman/The Guardian

Campaigners for tougher controls on the gambling business mentioned the introduction of hot foods, at very low cost price ranges, appeared to be developed as a “loss leader”, an offer that does not make income but that entices folks to keep and expend income on other items.

Matt Zarb-Cousin, a recovering gambling addict, the founder of Cleanse Up Gambling and a former adviser to Jeremy Corbyn, stated: “When the lowest priced sausage and egg muffin on the high road is in William Hill, you commence to question no matter whether the foodstuff is there as a loss leader, in an try to crank out new prospects.”

The criticism will come with the gambling industry under improved scrutiny, as the federal government prepares to publish a white paper predicted to herald a rollback of the liberalisation of gambling regulation that took area below Tony Blair in 2007.

Carolyn Harris, the Labour MP who chairs a cross-bash group inspecting gambling-related damage, explained the cafes appeared to be an illustration of the instruments utilised by betting corporations to preserve punters participating in.

“It appears to be like like a cynical plot to continue to keep clients in the bookies,” she stated. “Yet a different tactic of an marketplace hell bent on squeezing each pound they can out of clients.”

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A spokesperson for William Hill claimed: “We are presently trialling WH Cafes in five of our 1,408 retailers in the Uk, and while early feedback from our buyers is positive, there are no options for an estate-extensive rollout.

“The five stores are certified to give betting companies and are registered with the relevant authorities to offer food items and non-alcoholic beverages.

“The WH Cafe idea was born out of shopper solutions, and it is aimed at improving upon our shopper working experience and not at expanding the quantity of time they devote in our outlets.”

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