UK Snap Election Delays Action on Controversial Gambling Machines
The results from a government-led review of the highly controversial fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) will not be made public before October due to the recent UK general election, Minister Tracey Crouch confirmed during Thursday House of Commons questions.
It was last October when the government announced the beginning of a probe into the betting machines and their effect on vulnerable gambling customers. Said probe came as part of a triennial review officials make into the country’s gambling industry.
FOBTs were introduced in betting shops around the UK in the early 2000s and quickly became player-favorite offering. Generally speaking, this type of gaming machines provides players with the chance to bet on the outcome of popular casino games. Their dynamic nature and the opportunity to wager up to £100 every 20 seconds has made them widely popular among betting shop frequenters.
And it is their dynamic nature that has caught the attention of a number of both political and non-political groups. FOBTs have been subjected to heavy criticism over the years, mainly due to the maximum stakes they accept and the fact that this has been believed to be making them extremely addictive.
Results from the review were expected to be announced this spring. However, the call for snap election and the period of purdah, during which government departments tend to refrain from making any important announcements, delayed any further action on FOBTs.
It is still unclear what the probe will lead to, but many believe that there will be certain changes in the way the controversial machines are operated. FOBTs opponents have called for years now for maximum stakes to be be reduced from £100 to just £2.
And if the implementation of such a major reduction sounded close to impossible prior to the general election, it now seems that it may gain the necessary support.
If a reduction of the maximum stakes accepted is adopted, this would hit severely British bookmakers, whose retail businesses are highly dependent on FOBTs. According to information released by the UK Gambling Commission, there was an average number of 34,399 FOBTs in betting shops across the UK in the period between October 2015-September 2016. Those generated the amount of £1.8 billion in gross gambling yield, more than any other betting machine type available in facilities.
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