The FOBTs Controversy and The Warning of the UKGC

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The Controversy of the FOBT Machines

According to figures that the UKGC released, British punters lost a total of 13.8 billion English pounds in the year that ended in September of 2016; this includes a record high loss of 1.82 billion on the FOBT (Fixed Odd Betting Terminals), which causes a lot of controversies.  The UKGC issued those numbers just a few weeks before the government is supposed to release the long-awaited review of the industry and its regulations. The FOBT machines allow the punters to place up to 100 pounds, every twenty seconds on the electronic casino machines and this is why it has become the focal point for the campaigners who support a more strict regulation.

The FOBTs are certainly a problem, as both, the Labour and the Liberal Democrats gave their promises to cut down the maximum stake at those machines to £2 if they manage to win in the general elections. The losses of the punters on the FOBTs amount up to 5 million a day, for every day of the year.

The Numbers just Keep Increasing

The figures of the Gambling Commission showed that these losses are only increasing, as they increased by 57 million pounds from November’s last update to 1.82 billion for the year that ended in September of 2016. According to numbers, the losses on FOBTs increased by almost 73 percent since the year 2009, despite the fact that the growth of the FOBTS is only 9 percent over the same period. Such numbers prove that the punters are increasing their stake with every passing year on these controversial machines. The figures also showed that each FOBT machine managed to bring in around 52,887 pounds per year, which is almost as twice as the average wage across the United Kingdom.

Carolyn Harris is running for a re-election, as Swansea East’s MP, and she is campaigning to reduce the stakes of the FOBT machines, as she described the scale of the losses to be obscene.  The losses of the FOBT are getting out of control, with every passing year, punters lose more and more money on these addictive game machines; therefore, the government should act to implement a reduction of the stakes to a maximum of 2 pounds for each spin.

The bookmakers get more than 50 percent of the revenue from these FOBTs; these bookmakers defended the FOBTs as they warned that a lot of jobs, plus billions of pounds in taxes are going to be lost if the machines are restricted.  On the other hand, the campaign for a fairer gambling stated that the devices represent a net drain on the country’s economy.

A spokesperson indicated that the high stakes games and high-speed roulette machines at wagering shops result in significant profits to the firms, but that comes at the expense of the economy and the society. The spokesperson also added that a lot more jobs would be available if the money that citizens lost on FOBT would go somewhere else.

On the other hand, the British Bookmakers’ Association, stated that the increase in the revenue of the betting shops by three percent is just in line with the average growth in both, the economy and the entire gambling industry.  The figures of the UKGC show a twenty percent increase in casino’s revenue, and 7 percent in lotteries and a total of 5 percent in online casino revenue. The total amount of money that players lost on online gambling increased to £4.5 billion from £4.2 billion, on the other hand, the numbers for the National lottery went from 3.4 to 3.2 billion.  The last update that the UKGC released for the year that ended in March of last year stated that the losses of the gamblers reached 13.4 billion.  While the revenue of the industry grew, the size of the gambling sector, when it comes to jobs, decreased by 1.5 percent to reach 104,896 jobs, and this is probably because of the decline of betting shops by 1.8% and a reduction in the number of bingo halls by 4.3%.

The UK Gambling Commission Warns All Fantasy League Operators

On related news, with the soon initiation of the English Premier League season, the Gambling Commission of the United Kingdom issued a guidance warning, to the entire industry. The advice warning served to warn all of the operators that offer Fantasy Football services in the country before the new UK football seasons begin. The warning urged the companies that provide Fantasy Football betting services to make sure that all of their promotions, prizes, and the league itself comply with all of the current legislation and regulations of the UK Gambling Commission. It also advised the companies to make sure that they have a pool license, and if they do not, they should obtain one so they can be by the law of the UKGC.

The current regulations of the UKGC are that whenever a firm takes money from the players to partake in a fantasy football league, they will have to acquire a pool license. The only exception for that is that when the fantasy football league is not for a business purpose, and an example for that is the fantasy football leagues between colleagues or friends. The operators should also focus on any exposure that they have on social media, especially when it comes to ads that encourage people to engage in a gambling activity, for example, media and posts that provide any information about gambling activities and facilities, and this includes Facebook and Twitter.

The warning was on the website of the UKGC by the commission’s Programme Director, Ben Haden. He addressed the companies by saying that Fantasy Football is certainly a favorite thing for many football players during the season and that many will start to think to set up their football leagues with the beginning of the season. He added that the UKGC wants to make sure that those who are planning to do that, should be aware of all of the regulations and legalities involved, so they don’t end up breaching the UKGC’s rules, whether it is companies or among colleagues and friends.

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