The latest gambling news from the north shores of the English Channel suggest that players of fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) have some more time to enjoy their favorite gaming machines.
Following some powerful statements about plans to restrict FOBTs in the UK, as well as in the wake of the Irish ban on these machines, the British government has toned down the rhetoric significantly.
Although there have been mentions of plans to reduce the maximum stake on FOBTs from GBP 100 to GBP 2, such a drastic change in British gambling laws is now unlikely anytime soon.
In fact, any change is unlikely until the government receives the results of an ongoing research by the Responsible Gaming Trust (RGT), concerning the relationship between these terminals and problem gambling.
Since that could take up to a year, critics have been very vocal in calling Maria Miller, the secretary of state for culture, media and sport, to action.
“As the UK government dithers, the Irish government has acted decisively. By refusing to reduce the stake on FOBTs, the government is failing to protect young and vulnerable people, contrary to the licensing objective of the 2005 Gambling Act,” said Campaign for Fairer Gambling founder, Derek Webb.
Campaigners feel that having the research conducted by a partially industry funded charity adds insult to injury.
“Instead of adhering to a precautionary principle, the government is going to wait for bookmaker-funded research, which will take at least another year and is not guaranteed to tell us anything we do not already know about FOBTs. Every day that Maria Miller decides not to act, more and more people will be harmed as result,” claimed Webb.
The state secretary’s department responded in a statement, emphasizing “a need for proper research.”
“We are currently reviewing the responses following our call for evidence relating to these machines and links to problem gambling. Once we have examined the available evidence we will consider what further action, if any, is necessary.
“In addition, the Responsible Gambling Trust have already announced the largest programme of academic research into gaming machines ever undertaken in Britain, which should provide a much better understanding of problem gambling behaviour,” concluded the statement.
It is anybody’s guess which way the government will lean once the results are released, but fans of fast paced video gambling action may have to start getting used to the idea of switching to online or mobile casino gambling for good.