WILLIAM Hill branches in Dunfermline could close after the company revealed plans to axe 700 shops in the UK.

The announcement has caused uncertainty and the future of their betting shops outside the Kingsgate Centre and at Allan Crescent, Abbeyview, is currently unknown.

Around 4,500 jobs are now at risk with the bookmaker stating that a "large number of redundancies" are expected.

Shop closures are due to start by the end of the year.

William Hill blamed the closures on the Government’s decision to slash the maximum stake on controversial fixed-odds betting terminals (FOTBs) to £2 in April, which has hammered bookmakers’ sales.

On its store closure plans, the group said: “This follows the Government’s decision to reduce the maximum stake on B2 gaming products to £2 on 1 April 2019.

“Since then the company has seen a significant fall in gaming machine revenues, in line with the guidance given when the Government’s decision was announced in May 2018.”

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

The closures will see William Hill’s 2,282 shop estate shrink by close to a third.

It said it was too early to confirm which shops will shut until consultations are complete.

William Hill – which has 16,000 employees across the group – said it would look to offer voluntary redundancy and redeploy affected staff “extensively” where possible, “providing support to all colleagues throughout the process”.

The news comes after the bookie’s betting shops have been suffering following the FOBT’s stake move, as well as challenging high street conditions.

William Hill had previously warned it may have to axe up to 900 shops as a result of the FOTB crackdown.

GVC, which owns Ladbrokes Coral, has previously said up to 1,000 of its bookies were at risk of closure due to the clampdown.

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

He added: “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,” he said.

William Hill revealed in March it had swung to a pre-tax loss of £721.9 million in 2018 compared with a profit of £146.5 million the prior year after it took an £882.8 million hit on its retail operations in light of the FOTB stake reduction.

In its most recent trading update since the stake cut came into effect, William Hill said gaming net revenues plunged 15% in the 17 weeks to April 30, with wider retail turnover down 7%.