BETTING group William Hill has said it plans to close about 700 betting shops across the UK, with 4,500 jobs at risk.

A crackdown on fixed odds betting terminals is said to be the reason behind the move, which could affect betting shops across the North-East.

There are four branches in Darlington alone, according to the William Hill website, with other shops in Bishop Auckland, Spennymoor, Willington and Stockton - as well as seven in Durham City and the surrounding area and many others across the region.

A statement from the cvompany reads: "William Hill has entered into a consultation process with retail colleagues over plans to close around 700 licensed betting offices.

"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.

"A large number of redundancies is anticipated with 4,500 colleagues at risk. The Group will look to apply voluntary redundancy and redeployment measures extensively and will be providing support to all colleagues throughout the process.

"Subject to the outcome of the consultation process, shop closures are likely to begin before the end of the year."