Many online based and land-based operators in the United Kingdom have been bracing for impact since they knew that the reduction of the maximum stake in FOBTs would become a reality. On the 1st of April, it became a reality, and many operators seem to have found ways around it, of some sort, so they can overcome the money they will lose because of the stake reduction. Two of the top UK operators, Paddy Power, and Betfred might have taken it too far.
Paddy Power and Betfred Might be Facing Sanctions by the UK Watchdog
Paddy Power as well as Betfred, who are two of the top UK gambling operators could be facing sanctions by the UKGC after it told them to remove their new roulette style casino games, that are quite similar to the FOBTs (fixed-odds betting terminals). The UKGC accused the bookmakers, through the release of these new games, of attempting to cheat the new regulations that cut down the maximum stake of FOBTs from 100 to 2 GBP. The bookmakers released these new games on the same day that the FOBTs stake reductions became effective. The United Kingdom Gambling Commission stated that the firms already removed these products, while William Hill abandoned its plans that it had to launch its product, after strict warnings from the Watchdog.
The UKGC stated that the firms might still have to face regulatory action and sanctions, as they actively tried to undermine and cheat their way around the stake cut in the FOBTs. The commission also said that the senior staff members who were responsible for bringing these games to the market might go under investigation.
The UKGC’s Executive Directors Comments
The Executive Director of enforcement the UKGC, Richard Watson stated that they made it clear for the operators regarding their expectations for them to be responsible and follow the stake cut respectably.
The New Games by the Operators
Betfred and Paddy Power released games that are similar to roulette, and they are called Virtual Cycling and Pick n 36 respectively. The new product by Betfred allows stakes that amount up to 500 pounds, which is five times the amount that was possible on FOBTs, but less frequently. Betfred announced that they are taking town Virtual Cycling so that it can allow for more discussion with the UKGC. As for Paddy Power, they didn’t comment. As for William Hill, its new game was going to be called Wonderball, but according to William Hill, they have no plans to launch the game.
The Pick n 36 game by Paddy Power has a maximum stake of 100, which is the same as the FOBTs before the reduction of the stake. Similarly to Virtual Cycling by Betfred, the players will place a stake on numbers that vary between 1 and 36, similar to a game of Roulette. There is also a TV screen that shows cold and hot numbers, which gives players the impressions that the numbers that appear are not random, which is a feature that the GambleAware charity heavily criticized.