After recent criticism of government policy over betting shops throughout the United Kingdom, the Prime Minister appears to be considering yet another u-turn. In the latest piece of every changing gambling news to come out of No10, there is a chance that Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) could be restricted or even banned.
If a change in UK gambling law was to happen, Labour MP Tom Watson could have been key to the developments, as it was his probing at Prime Minister’s Questions that urged the PM to look into the machines.
Currently, high street betting shops bring in about half their revenue from these machines, despite being limited to four in each location. FOBTs allow gamblers to part with up to GBP 100 every 20 seconds, so losses can quickly get out of hand if the individual is not careful.
PM David Cameron said, therefore: “I do think it is worth having a proper look at this issue, to see what we can do to make sure that, yes, we have bookmakers that are not over-regulated, but on the other hand, a fair approach and a decent approach that prevents problem gambling.”
The popularity of FOBTs has strangely held out despite the continued growth of mobile betting in the UK. With more and more companies increasingly targeting the smartphone market, you’d expect this to be the largest area of profit for the companies, but FBOTs still lead the way.
Adrian Parker, from the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, doesn’t hold out much hope for a change of policy, however, saying: “It was a pretty vague answer… but at least it’s on his agenda. Somebody needs to make a decision about what to do. These machines have been around for 10 or 11 years now.”