The UKGC has come down hard on Paddy Power and Betfred after it found them bending the rules against reducing the stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs). As of yesterday, stakes were reduced from £100 to £2. The regulator issued a stern warning and asked the two betting giants not to bypass the new rules.
In its defense, Paddy Power stated that its product was more of a limited trial while Betfred was looking to have a discussion with the commission.
The commission had recommended the £2 ceiling on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) in March 2018. The main contention was to reduce the damage caused by gambling, and the same was supported by the government.
One must know that the game developed by Betfred showcased two cyclists in shops who were competing on a velodrome track which was engraved with numbers. The winning number was decided at the moment a rear cyclist outperformed the one in the front.
Following a roulette wheel, the numbers were 1 to 36. Players were allowed to bet a maximum of 500 pounds and to choose between even and odd numbers, rows and columns, colors.
Meanwhile, Paddy Power’s product also allowed its customers to bet between 1 to 36 numbers before the expected FOBT rule change.
Furthermore, the leading bookmakers were already being criticized ahead of the modification. As per Tom Watson, the shadow culture minister, they were “FOBTs through the back door.” On the other hand, Tracey Crouch MP, the ex-sports minister, declared that any attempt to sidestep the changes “would be morally irresponsible.”
In the meantime, executive director for enforcement- Gambling Commission, Richard Watson, said, “We have been absolutely clear with operators about our expectations to act responsibly following the stake cut implementation this week.”
Allegedly, the commission has requested all the operators to abide by the modified rules. Watson added that action would be taken against any game that runs against the “spirit and intention” of their judgment. Another bookmaker who was about to launch a similar game was warned.
Betfred removed the virtual cycling game at 10:30 today. Paddy Power is waiting for customer feedback to decide whether they will be launching the actual game on a bigger scale.
It would be interesting to see if Paddy Power comes out with the full version of their removed trial version.