09.112017Tighter Regulations on the “Crack Cocaine of Gambling
Fixed Online Betting Terminals, which are better known as FOBTs or “Fob-Tees” took the offline gambling work by storm a few years ago. But while they were raking money in for betting shops owned by the likes of Ladbrokes and WilliamHill, they were causing a stir.
These machines can be found throughout the UK, located in betting shops up and down the country. They offer punters the chance to play virtual games of roulette and other table games and they allow them to gamble hundreds of pounds at a time, or at least they did. Because the landscape has changed for these machines and according to some experts, it’s about time.
The Problem With FOBTs
FOBTs combine all of the elements that make gambling so addictive and as a result they have been a leading contributor for the rise of problem gambling in the United Kingdom. The noises, the interactivity and the pace all combine to reward the pleasure centers of the brain, and the near misses, the promise of big wins and the bright lights ensure that gamblers keep feeding money in.
These machines used to litter betting shops throughout the country. They quickly became their main source of income as players would spend thousands of pounds every hour. But then stories of addiction started to appear and the government realized the issue was getting out of hand.
People were collecting paychecks and going straight to the betting shops, spending all of their money in the space of one or two hours and then going home. The newspapers listened as people told stories of remortgaging houses, taking out loans and selling everything they had, all so they could continue playing these machines,.
It sounds crazy and it is, but fortunately this was the rock bottom and it was all uphill from there.
Gambling addiction is not going to go away unless gambling does and we don’t think it should. Real money online casinos, sportsbooks, lotteries—all have been going for a long time without major issue. You don’t see many such issues with standard Microgaming casinos or even with betting exchanges. For every problem gambler there are over a hundred who enjoy it responsibly. Providing everyone is aware and there are standards in place to stop problem gambling, there is nothing wrong with it.
The issue is that FOBTs were basically the Wild West of gambling. They were a new standard brought into an old world and marshall law was applied. This didn’t last though and eventually restrictions began to be placed on these machines.
The government first limited the amount of machines that could be placed in a single location. They then limited the amount that could be spent on them in a single go. They also told betting shop staff to be more aware and to watch out for potential problem gamblers.
As of October 2017, calls have been made for more resections and it looks like these might go ahead. Campaigners want to bring down the maximum bet to just £2. This is a huge reduction from the current limit of £100, but it has been supported by major betting firm Paddy Power Betfair, who own both Paddy Power and Betfair following a merger.
The problem is, they are not the ones who profit the most from these machines and until WilliamHill, Ladbrokes and other high-street betting kings follow suit, these restrictions may be slower and have less of an impact.
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