Today, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) published its advice to support the Government with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) review of controversial fixed-odds betting machines (FOBTs) and social responsibility measures. The gambling regulatory authority has issued its formal advice aiming to put a cap on the gambling-related harm that customers, and especially more vulnerable ones, could face.
The Government is expected to soon unveil its decision on the possible reduction of the maximum stakes allowed at FOBTs.
The official advice paper issued by the major gambling regulatory body in the UK reveals the measures that according to the UKGC need to be taken by the country’s Government in terms of gambling companies. Of course, it is the Government that would make the final decision whether to take into account the Commission’s recommendations and implement them in its decision.
According to the Chief Executive Officer of the UKGC, Neil McArthur, consumers were put first in the making of the Commission’s advice, which is based on the best available evidence and is aimed at reducing the risk of gambling-related harm. As revealed by Mr. McArthur, the UK Gambling Commission does not believe that the reduction of the maximum FOBTs’ stake alone would not be enough to ensure actual protection of more vulnerable individuals.
That was exactly the reason why the UK Gambling Commission had recommended not only the machines’ stake to be reduced, but also a more thorough package of other measures to the imposed in order for consumers to be protected. UKGC’s CEO explained that the regulatory body’s proposed actions were expected to deal both with the risks of harm and to provide solutions which are to bring regulation of the matter in the longer term.
The Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) released a commentary following the Gambling Commission statement, saying that it was now in process of consideration of the UKGC’s advice. The Association further shared that it fully understood the public concern over the controversial machines and the local authorities’ willingness to cut the maximum stake allowed at the terminals.
UKGC Recommendations to the Government
As mentioned above, a number of recommendations were made by the major gambling regulatory body to the Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in order for better social responsibility measures to be imposed.
The UKGC has said that the maximum stake allowed at local fixed-odds betting machines should be slashed from the current £100 to £2. According to the Commission, the stake limit for non-slot games available at FOBTs should be set at no more than £30 in case that players would be able to lose large amounts of money in short periods of time.
According to the UK Gambling Commission, facilities which feature fixed-odds betting machines should impose some restrictions on the terminals, banning them from offering different categories of games to players in a single session. In addition, the regulatory body said that it would be a good idea for authorities to make the so-called tracked play mandatory for B1, B2 and B3 category machines. Furthermore, the UKGC recommended that the B1 and B3 category machines to see extended protections such as the ones that have been set on the B2 category machines (FOBTs).
Last but not least, the UK Gambling Commission also reminded that it would be a good thing for authorities to continue working with the industry and all interested parties on the measures that would make new maximum stake limits allowed at FOBTs more efficient.