BOOKIES chain William Hill, which has three branches in the Borders, is set to axe almost one-third of its betting shops.

A consultation has been announced by the firm following the introduction of restrictions on in-branch gaming machines.

But initial forecasts from the company suggest around 700 of its 2,300 outlets will be closed.

William Hill has branches in Peebles, Galashiels and Hawick.

A spokesman said: "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 April 1, 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 company has also stated that as many as 4,500 of its 12,500 staff face redundancy because of the closures.

The spokesman added: "The Group will look to apply voluntary redundancy and redeployment measures extensively and will be providing support to all colleagues throughout the process."

A list of which shops are to close is expected in the autumn following the consultation period, with the first closures happening before the end of the year.