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22.05.2018

Fixed Odd Betting Terminals to be Capped

The UK Government has announced that it will curb the amount gamblers are able to spend on betting shop gambling machines by capping the maximum stake at £2.

The terminals, also known as Fixed Odd Betting Terminals (FOBT), were introduced into the UK in 2001, and are permitted, by law, to allow up to three spins per minute. However, with stakes of £100 per spin being permitted, the potential for problem gamblers to lose substantial amounts is high.

In the UK for example, last year it is believed almost a quarter of a million players lost £1,000 in one sitting, whilst 650 lost more than £5,000. One player is known to have lost £13,777.90. In total, £1.8 billion was lost by gamblers on terminals in 2017-18, leading some critics to describe the terminals as the crack cocaine of gambling.  Judging from the statistics available, it would appear such claims are justified.

Since 2009, for example, the Gambling Commission has reported that the sums being lost on such machines has increased by 73%, despite the number of terminals only increasing by 9% over the same period. This suggest the number of gamblers becoming hooked is increasing. The terminals are, also, now the third most likely way gamblers in the UK will lose money, surpassed only by online gaming and the national lottery.

It’s also been reported by the Center for Economics and Business Research, that the terminals may be costing the UK taxpayer £210 million per year, with £116 million being spent on hospital inpatient visits, £32 million in secondary mental health services and £16 million through criminal behavior.  It is also believed that problem gambling on the machines may also be resulting in additional costs of £13 million in housing costs, and £30 million through problems at work which gamblers are experiencing.

The £2 cap has been widely backed by 93 UK local authorities, the Royal Society for Public Health, the Church of England and both the Labour and the Liberal Democrat Party.

However, not everyone has welcomed the proposed changes, with The Association of British Bookmakers warning that the “…. decision…will have far-reaching implications for betting shops on the high street” and they expect over 4,000 shops to close and 21,000 betting shop employees to lose their jobs”.

However, the Campaign for Fairer Gambling has said the machines were a net drain on the economy and that “more jobs would be created if money lost on Fixed Odd Betting Terminals was spent elsewhere”.

Not all bookmakers have opposed the plans, either. Paddy Powers Betfair, has said the industry has suffered “reputational damage” because of FOBTS and welcomed the government’s stance. Jenningsbet, has also called for the industry to return to it’s roots, and called for a “more collaborative and healthy relationship with horse and greyhound racing”.

Others have also welcomed the announcement, with Labour MP, Carolyn Harris, who chairs the cross-party parliamentary group on FOBTs, stating she was delighted by the decision. “FOBTS have caused too much social harm and huge losses for those who can least afford it,” she said, “these machines have increased the risk of problem gambling, which carries a very significant social and economic cost.”

If you are struggling with a gambling problem

If you are struggling with a gambling problem, or if you suspect you may be struggling with a gambling problem, you may need to ask yourself some hard questions.

  • First, do you spend more time gambling than you intended?
  • Do you lose track of time when you gamble?
  • Do you gamble when you should be doing something else?
  • Do you gamble to win back money you lost?
  • Do you borrow money to fund your gambling?
  • Do you lie to others about your gambling?

If you are answering yes to more than one of these questions, it may be that gambling has now become a problem for you. If this is the case, you may need to seek help.

First, to assess whether you have a problem, you can use Gamcare’s online self-assessment tool to see if you have a problem.  You can also call the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133 for advice and support.

You may also wish to consider self-excluding yourself from gambling operators outlets, which you can do by notifying them you have a gambling problem. They then must share your information with other gambling operators (for more information, see here).

Where you have debt problems that you have accrued, as a result of your gambling problems, you should also seek advice, as dealing with these will also often help you deal with your gambling problems.

There are now many solutions, across that UK, that can help people, even where their debts have arisen from gambling, from protected trust deeds, sequestration (bankruptcy) and the Debt Arrangement Scheme in Scotland to the Individual Voluntary Arrangements and bankruptcy elsewhere in the UK.

 

 To find out more about these solutions, contact a Creditfix adviser today on 0808 2085 198.