JOBS across Sussex could be at risk as a leading betting shop chain announced 700 of its shops will be axed.

William Hill has warned of a “large number of redundancies” as it announced plans to begin shutting hundreds of stores by the end of the year.

But it has refused to name which shops will be closed.

It blamed the closures on the Government’s decision to slash the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOTBs)to £2 in April.

The bookmaker has three shops in Brighton in St James’s Street, Queens Road, and Western Road.

The company also has branches in George Street, Hove, and Station Road, Portslade.

West Sussex stores in Lancing, Worthing, and Burgess Hill could be affected, as well as East Sussex shops in Seaford and Eastbourne.

A William Hill spokesman said the plans were directly caused by the Government’s FOTBs policy.

He said: “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.”

Tom Blenkinsop, operations director of the Community union which represents betting shop workers, said the move was “devastating news”.

He said: “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.

“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”

William Hill revealed in March it had swung to a pre-tax loss of £721.9 million in 2018.

This came after a profit of £146.5 million in 2017, the company having taken an £882.8 million hit on its retail operations in light of the Government’s decision on FOTBs.

In its most recent trading update since the FOTB cut came into effect, William Hill said gambling net revenues plunged 15 per cent in the 17 weeks to April 30, with wider retail profit down seven per cent.