The United Kingdom is one of the places that has had to grapple with extreme cases of problem gambling and for this reason, the country’s government and its gaming regulators have opted to take control of the issue through a series of amendments. Today makes the date for one of the major changes to the country’s gaming industry and it is related to the fixed odds betting terminals.
Going forward, the betting machines will no longer be allowed to offer odds up to £100 ($130) and instead, the new maximum odds have been set at £2 ($2.60). This decision came two years after the legislative debate in the odds begun and it was found that they were too high, something that, in one or the other, contributed to problem gambling.
How Serious Is It?
Well, it goes without saying that the move will lead to the closure of a number of gambling shops. Naturally, the gaming operators are not amused by the enforcement but the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) has already warned that it is not flinching when it comes to its new regulations. The commission will be more stringent with its policing activities – in fact, it has already issued a warning to at least one gaming machine manufacturer whose new terminal machines have been to be non-compliant with the FOBTs changes.
“We have been closely monitoring operators’ plans to manage the implementation of the stake cut and we will continue to watch very carefully to ensure that any changes and developments to these products are done with a focus on customer safety. It’s imperative that operators invest in and use data, technology, and measures to identify harmful play and can step in to protect players when needed,” reads a statement from the UKGC.
Earlier this year when the new FOBTs changes were announced, it was found that no less than 4,500 gambling venues would be forced to close down and this would in turn cause at least 20,000 to lose their jobs. Still, the move has been met by mixed reactions from gaming operators and various industry stakeholders including responsible gambling campaigners.
Most of the large gaming operators have already acknowledged how serious the situation is and are now focusing on other verticals – they are mostly banking their hopes on online gambling. A good number plan to make larger investments in this regard while a few others are venturing into other markets. A great example is Bet365 which is preparing to go live in New Jersey and will probably try to venture into the Pennsylvanian interactive gaming market once it goes live. Smaller gaming companies, on the other hand, might not be so lucky.