Operators Concerned as New FOBT Guidelines Come into Effect Today


On Monday, April 1, the fixed odds betting terminals across the UK will have to reduce maximum stakes from £100 to £2.  The UK betting industry is bracing itself for the impact of the changed laws. FOBT activity amounted for more than half of the retail revenues of betting operators in the country.  The UK Gambling Commission is now warning operators not to offset the fall in the revenues by offering new Gambling games to their customers.

The new rule comes after 2 years of deliberation from the British authorities. However, a clampdown on maximum stakes is not the only thing that will bother British betting operators. From Monday onwards they will also have to face increased taxes.  This move will be digging a deeper hole in their pockets when the revenues are already compromised.

The industry now has to find new ways to fill the gap between the revenues and the taxes. It is highly likely that the double whammy of taxation and revenue loss will also lead to subsequent closures and loss of jobs across the UK.

The association of British bookmakers lobbied against the reforms last year telling the government that reduction in stakes would lead 4,500 betting shop to shut down to which in turn would lead to the loss of 20,000 jobs. The UK currently has 8,400 outlets.  Industry figures suggest that around 2300 shops, amounting to nearly a quarter of the retail market good shutdown initially.

Another possibility is that the operators will introduce new types of games which will exploit the loopholes and boundaries of existing UK gambling laws. According to the Racing Post, the regulator has already talked to the FBT suppliers and asked them not to who introduced new games that are designed specifically to subvert the laws. The new games may restrict maximum stake to £2 but will give the opportunity to players to gamble all their winnings at any time which is not compliant with the UKGC guidelines.

The UKGC commented on the situation saying, “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.” The regulator also said that it is important for operators to invest in data, technology and other measures that could help in identifying harmful activities and provide adequate player protection.

British newspaper The Guardian conducted its own study on the impact of the new law. It visited in the second biggest city in the UK, Birmingham, to find out the impact of early trials of new laws.  The publication suggests that they received mixed reactions from the players. Outlet managers noted that the effect on the effect of new laws on their business was “noticeable but not devastating.”

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