William Hill boss Philip Bowcock is stepping down to be replaced by its chief digital officer as the bookmaking giant looks to a future focused on online and international growth.

Mr Bowcock, who has been chief executive for three years, will be succeeded by Ulrik Bengtsson, who is a former boss of Nasdaq-listed Swedish betting firm Betsson, at the end of this month.

It comes two months after William Hill said it was going to close 700 betting shops, putting 4,500 jobs at risk, following a government crackdown on fixed-odds betting terminal stakes – dubbed the “crack cocaine” of gambling.

The bookmaker had previously warned that the cut in the maximum stake on the gaming machines to £2 would result in as many as 900 of its 2,300 shops being shut.

In a trading update last month it said the changes had slashed gaming revenues and resulted in many of its shops becoming loss-making during the latest quarter, adding that it was continuing to pursue “cost reduction measures” including talks with landlords.

William Hill said on Thursday that the departure of Mr Bowcock was “consistent with the group’s strategy of becoming a digitally led and internationally diverse gambling company”.

Mr Bengtsson said the company would seek to drive online growth in the UK and internationally as well as building up William Hill’s business in the US, and “remodelling” its retail shop estate.

Mr Bowcock said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at William Hill.

“It has been an intense period with the industry and business experiencing significant structural and regulatory change.”