UK bookmakers' worst fears were realised this morning after the government cut the maximum stake on fixed odds betting machines (FOBTs) to £2, with the decision leading to warnings of significant job losses in the sector.

The Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) said the decision would have "far-reaching implications" for high street bookmakers.

It predicted a devastating hit on licensed betting offices, estimating that 4,000 shops would have to close, with 21,000 employees to lose their jobs as a result.

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