WILLIAM Hill has announced plans to close 700 betting shops across the UK.

The bookies, which has two stores in Reading, revealed that around 4,500 jobs are at risk due to the closures.

The decision comes after sales were hit following the Government’s decision to cut the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTS) from £100 to £2 in April.

Closures are due to start by the end of the year, but it is not clear whether the Reading stores will be affected.

The group warned a "large number of redundancies" are expected, and it has begun consultation meetings with those affected.

They explained they would look to offer voluntary redundancy and re-deploy affected staff "extensively" where possible, "providing support to all colleagues throughout the process".

The industry's trade union blasted the closures as "devastating news" for workers and called on the Government to offer support.

GVC, which owns Ladbrokes Coral, has previously said up to 1,000 of its shops were at risk of closure for the same reason.

Tom Blenkinsop, operations director at the Community union, said: "This is devastating news for thousands of betting shop workers.

"The Government also has a role to play and must look at what support they can offer to workers whose jobs are threatened as a consequence of changes to the law around FOBTs.

"Workers don't deserve to be the victims of the changes happening in the industry as a result of either Government policy or the significant shift towards online gambling."