Gambling stocks fall on FOBT tax rise

<p>Fixed odds betting machines have been targeted by the chancellor.</p>

The share prices of some of the UK's largest bookmakers have plummeted this afternoon (March 19th) on the back of the Budget announcement by chancellor George Osborne.

Addressing the House of Commons earlier in the day, Mr Osborne revealed that tax on fixed odds betting machines (FOBTs) is to be increased to 25 per cent.

Many commentators have called for FOBTs to be banned from high street bookies entirely, as they allow users to gamble high amounts of money in a short space of time.

Investors responded negatively to the announcement by the chancellor, perhaps as the increasing popularity of FOBTs in betting shops has helped to boost profits for gambling companies over the last few years.

Among those to take the biggest hit on the back of the news was Ladbrokes, which saw its stocks lose 12 per cent of their value in just a few hours after Mr Osborne wound down his Budget speech earlier in the day.

Shares fall

By 16:05 GMT, stocks in Ladbrokes were 12.01 per cent down on their position at the start of the day, losing almost 20 points from their value to stand at the 139.90 mark. This is the lowest point the share price of the company has reached in the last 12 months.

The news tax on FOBTs is to increase also damaged the share price of William Hill, which rivals Ladbrokes as the largest bookmaker in the UK. Stocks were down by more than seven per cent in the few hours after the chancellor's announcement, and by 16:07 GMT the firm's share price was 7.13 per cent down on the start of the day.

Stocks in William Hill were therefore trading at around the 350.20 mark, hovering around 30 points above the company's 52-week low for its share price.

The plummeting share prices of bookmakers extended outside of the UK as well, as Irish company Paddy Power was among those to be affected. However, it was not hit as hard as William Hill and Ladbrokes and shares in the firm were only down around three per cent on the start of the day at 16:07 GMT.

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