A report has shown that the UK is the only developed country that currently has its high-street betting shops allow a maximum stake of £100 every 20 seconds to be placed. The Respublica think tank has shared its opinion that the UK Government should reduce the maximum stake allowed on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) to only £2, because such high stakes have devastating effects on both communities and local residents’ lives.
In addition, the report warns that a total of 1.5 million people in the UK play on fixed-odds betting machines, which also inflict massive harm to poorer areas in the country.
New Report Findings
One of the report’s authors and a leading conservative activist, Phillip Blond, has commented on the situation, saying that the British Prime Minister Theresa May should put the issues related to FOBTs, and more specifically controlling the machines, as a top priority for the time being. According to him, the Conservative Party should not back a piece of New Labour legislation that has brought devastating consequences to some of the poorest communities across the country.
As reported by Casino Guardian, the fixed-odds betting machines have emerged as one of the most serious problems of the British gambling market. The FOBTs have been condemned for allowing customers place a maximum stake of £100 every twenty seconds that could lead to losing a massive amount of up to £18,000 in just an hour on electronic casino games, including all-time classics such as roulette and blackjack.
According to fixed-odds betting terminals’ opponents, the machines encourage customers to bet high amounts thanks to their quick gameplay and high stakes allowed. They have called FOBTs highly-addictive and have pointed them as some of the main culprits for increasing levels of problem gambling behaviour.
As mentioned above, according to the report, approximately 1.5 million people play the fixed-odds betting terminals, with their collective losses amounting to over £1.7 billion in 2016. One third of these players are considered to be put at risk of becoming seriously addicted to gambling, according to data released by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).
On the other hand, the data released in The Respublica report reveals that customers who use fixed-odds betting terminals lost £1,000 or more on over 230,000 separate occasions in one year only. In addition, a personal debt of £17,500 is owed by the average player, according to the study. According to Conservative Respublica body of experts, a lower maximum stake would help players better control their gambling and would be effective in preventing the development of habits that could turn out as harmful for the individual.
UK Government’s FOBTs Review
As a whole, according to Mr. Phillip Blond, the newly-issued report would be seen as a further sign that the country’s ministers must finally act against high-stakes terminals that could inflict massive harm on local customers, and poorer communities.
The long-awaited Governmental review on the fixed-odds betting machines was first due in June, but then certain controversy arose between the Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the UK Treasury, so the review was postponed for the autumn of 2017. Now, it is expected to be officially rolled out until the end of October, but not until after the Budget.
A number of changes could be expected to be implemented through the review, including a reduction of the FOBTs’ maximum stake. The UK Government is still to reach a final decision about the maximum level of the stake. Experts have shared that no matter that many opponents of the fixed-odds betting terminals insist on a maximum bet’s reduction to £2, such a step would hit the profits brought to both the Treasury and the UK gambling industry.