Industry statistics published by the Gambling Commission have shown that FOBTs brought in £1.8bn for bookmakers. But, Bacta analysis has uncovered the effect of B2’s £100 maximum stake. The FOBT debate will not go away.
Analysis of industry statistics by Bacta has revealed that FOBTs are responsible for 96 percent of all machine gross gambling yield (GGY) made in excess of £1,000 on one occasion.
From October 2015- September 2016, on 233,071 occasions, B2s added £1000 to betting shops machine GGY, and on more than 650 occasions the category added a further £5,000.
“Fixed-odds betting terminals are a hardcore form of gambling, entirely unsuitable for everyday high-street venues,” said Jason Frost, the outgoing president of Bacta. “They allow consumers and at-risk gamblers to rack up huge losses. The vast majority of everyday punters who are making major losses are doing so at these addictive betting shop machines at higher stakes. They endanger consumers, foster a culture of violence and aggression, and undermine the whole amusement industry’s work to create a socially responsible environment for gaming that puts player protection first.”
Total machine GGY of B2s has risen by 73 percent since 2009, despite the number of machines rising by only 9 percent over the same period to 34,388. This indicates that players are increasing the amount they bet, a trend the postponed Triennial Review will decide whether to intervene in.
Jim Shannon, who was a member of the all-party parliamentary group on FOBTs, said: “These figures are obscene. They underline the need for the Government to urgently ensure action is taken to reduce the maximum amount people can stake.”
The Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) disagrees with this assessment, responding to Bacta in particular by taking a swing at the trade body’s triennial submission. “Bacta’s hypocrisy is remarkable,” a riled ABB told The Daily Mail. “They have urged the Government to introduce contactless payments and increase stakes on the 310,000 slot machines in arcades, pubs and service stations.”
This statement – which ignores the fact that Bacta’s requested stake increases would remain 97.5 percent lower than the current B2 maximum stake – was followed by some advice: to be more like bookmakers.
“They should get their own house in order and, like betting shops, enable customers to set limits, ban cash machines on site and employ staff to stop people getting into difficulty,” the ABB added.
Ironically, while the ABB attempt to divert attention by pointing fingers in every direction, the percentage of their total off course combined GGY (£3.2bn) that comes from machines (£1.8bn), rather than ‘over the counter’ betting (£1.4bn), continues to increase.