It’s been over two months since the UK Government decided to cut the maximum FOBT (Fixed-odds betting terminals) stake from £100 to £2, but what has actually happened since?
The gambling industry warned that the cut would lead to job losses and bookmakers in the United Kingdom prepared for store closures. But the move was praised as being a “significant step forward” by Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright as it was officially implemented on April 1st, 2019.
Just days before the rule came into effect, it was revealed that Ladbrokes had selected over 70 shops to shut down, costing the firm an estimated £50,000 per shop. Meanwhile, the Association of British Bookmakers predicted that the cut would result in up to 4,500 shops being closed.
The FOBT cut
The cut was first launched in Birmingham back in March as part of a trial to help firms understand the impact and to help them manage the transition better. Bookmaker staff told The Guardian that the impact of the cut had been noticeable but wasn’t as devastating as first predicted.
Speaking about the cut, a staff member at a Birmingham branch of Coral said: “When we first got them people were a bit funny about it but they’re coming round,” adding that the shop itself hadn’t suffered.
Meanwhile, a Birmingham Betfred employee showed a similar response when they said: “We’ve lost a bit of business but it’s not been too bad. You’d be surprised how some people kick off. They’re saying, ‘I lost all my money last week and now you’re stopping me from winning it back’. That doesn’t make sense to me. If you lost your money, you lost your money.”
Now, over two months later, Ladbrokes has confessed that the impact from the cut hasn’t been as severe as it had originally thought. However, William Hill has revealed that its revenues have dropped by 40% following the cut.
Irish bookmaker Paddy Power also revealed that its revenues had dropped by about 40% despite previously stating that it didn’t expect to close any of its 320 shops because it deliberately avoided depending on FOBTs, unlike its rivals.
The Gambling Commission has now warned that with FOBTs out of the way, it will be turning its attention to other high street machines. This has led many punters to turn their attention towards online gambling, which generally offers better payouts and a wider collection of games and betting opportunities.
In fact, the Commission revealed in its annual industry report published in May that while the total gross gambling yield dropped 0.4% between October 2017 and September 2018 in the UK, the total gross gambling yield for online gambling rose 2.9%.
With so many casino sites available in the UK, it can be hard finding a trustworthy website to register and play. It’s one reason why there are websites that make it their mission to test and rate online gambling providers and rank Britain’s best casino sites. All listed operators are proven to be safe for players and 100% comply with the strict regulations outlined by the Gambling Commission.
As the UK Gambling Commission’s crackdown on traditional high-street gambling shops continues, it’s likely that we’ll see more and more people turn towards online gambling.