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British media report that the UK Gambling Commission has recommended the maximum stake for fixed odds betting terminals (FOBT’s) should be cut down to £30 or less.
Opponents to roulette-style gambling in UK bookmaking shops have been campaigning for cutting the FOBT stakes to £2 and expressed concerns about the risk involved in playing casino-style games.
According to them, FOBT’s encourage high-stakes gambling and expose people to the risk of gambling addiction. Labor MP, who chairs an all-party parliamentary group investigating FOBT’s, Carolyn Harris, is disappointed in the Gambling Commission since they apparently “caved in to industry pressure”. She strongly believes that the government will do the right thing despite this recommendation and restrict the stake limit at £2.
The Gambling Commission’s recommendations have been sent to Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and they are seen as the most influential submission to a review by the Department.
The lawmakers will have to decide whether to implement this or other commission recommendations. They are under a lot of pressure to protect players but they have to keep in mind that FOBT’s make a big portion of £700 million revenue.
The Gambling Commission recommended a series of other measures related to protecting players. Greater use of “tracked play” is the most important one, where betting patterns are monitored in order to identify the problematic gambling behaviour.
According to the current law, players can wager £100 every 20s on electronic casino games including roulette and blackjack, and should the Department accept the recommendations that will be cut down to £30.
Opponents claim this limit is still too high because within one minute this stake will generate £90 loss and £900 within 10-minute play. For slot games, the Gambling Commission recommended the lowest possible limit of £2 a spin, like on fruit machines, but they are far less popular then the roulette games.
The Association of British Bookmakers claims that even reducing a stake limit to £30 would see 2,100 betting shops close and 10,000 jobs lost.
Major UK gambling companies like William Hill and Ladbrokes Coral also said that limits that are too low would hurt their businesses and lead to layoffs. Shares in William Hill closed up 4% of their operations and Ladbrokes Coral almost 3% when the news came out.