Fate of UK FOBTs to Be Decided Based on Government ReportPublished October 30, 2017 by Ivan P
The UK Government probe into FOBTs will play a crucial role in determining future of these betting terminals in the country.
The debate on the maximum allowed stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) has been going on for some time in the UK. However, the final resolution seems near as the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport will be releasing findings of their probe into the matter later this week.
The probe was intended to carefully examine FOBTs and suggest any changes the Department saw fit. The main issue is that of the maximum bet, which, at the moment, stands at £100, allowing players to wager up to £100 every 20 seconds.
Fighting Gambling Addiction
As of right now, there are more than 9,000 shops scattered across the UK offering players access to Fixed Odds Betting Terminals. Many believe that high stakes offered by the machine, combined with the fast-paced action, are the main culprit for the sharp increase in gambling addiction cases documented over the past few years.
As a response to this, a number of UK politicians came up with the suggestion to reduce the maximum wager, limiting players' exposure and reducing the addictive effect. The aforementioned probe was a part of this effort, trying to determine the best approach to the problem.
Right now, FOBTs represent a big income generator. Last year alone, these machines brought in the gross yield of £1.8 billion. A reduction in the maximum stake would certainly have an adverse effect on these numbers.
The UK media believe that three new maximum levels will be suggested - £50, £20, and £2. The number of those supporting the reduction to £2 is fairly significant, but as things stand right now, this doesn't seem to be a realistic scenario. The impact of such a reduction would likely be to severe, influencing not only the state income but also the profitability of bookmakers, potentially leading to many of them having to close shops and fire hundreds, if not thousands of employees.
The reduction to £20 seems like the most likely, middle-ground solution to the problem. In addition to reducing the maximum stake, there have also been suggestions to reduce FOBTs speeds with the same goal of limiting the players' maximum exposure.
Once the results of the probe are announced, MPs will be given several suggestions and the deadline of 12 weeks to come up with the decision they see as the most reasonable given all the factors.