UK Gaming Operators Threaten to Pull Sports Sponsorships Over FOBT Changes
Every year, gaming operators in the UK shell out millions of pounds for sports sponsorships of all kinds. This torrent of cash is used for everything from acquiring top level football stars to propping up struggling sports such as horse racing.
But if a series of proposed changes to fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBT)passes into law, companies like Ladbrokes Coral have indicated that their days of spending big cash on sponsorships will be a thing of the past.
At the heart of the issue is a government effort to curb problem gambling that revolves around the controversial gaming machines known as FOBTs. Recent technological advances have allowed these slot and poker machines (sometimes also known as “fruit machines”) to provide punters with an incredibly high rate of play. Some machines can whirl off a spin every two seconds. That, of course, is a major problem for problem gamblers (who sometimes refer to them as “video crack”).
To combat this problem, lawmakers have proposed lower the maximum wager on an FOBT from £100 to just £2, as well as slowing the overall rate of play. To say that this would impact the bottom line at most UK-based gaming operators is a bit of an understatement. That’s why Ladbrokes says that if the law is passed, its ability to provide sponsorships will be upended, and that could have a big impact on the UK sporting world.
In an interview with the BBC, a representative of Ladbrokes Coral emphasized the importance of sports sponsorships for both operators and sport clubs saying:
“A severe stake cut has many implications not least on jobs, the Treasury and the sports we support. Sports sponsorship is a two-way street, yes we get exposure but it also helps sports finance their entire structures right down to grass-roots funding.”
Within the sporting world, gaming sponsorships and their connection to FOBTs is something of a double-edged sword as Racing Post editor Bruce Millington explained to the BBC saying:
“No-one likes the fact that the horseracing industry is a hostage to a whole load of high octane fruit machines but there’s little question that a £2 limit would have significant implications.”
The impact of the proposed changes to FOBTs is quite serious and the gaming industry’s push to let the world know its impact is a good indication of how seriously major players like Ladbrokes are taking the matter.