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UKGC Steps Away from FOBT Limits

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is, seemingly, stepping away from its heavy-handed efforts to regulate fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs). In an announcement first reported on by The TimesCommissioners have decided that they are willing to let go of their demand that the maximum wager at an FOBT be fixed at £2.

Commissioners didn’t discount the £2 maximum wager entirely, but suggested that they’ll be backing a maximum wager that is less than £30. Currently, the maximum any punter can wager can one these machines is a whopping £100. That’s led to accusations that the gambling industry is promoting problem gambling by allowing anyone, including problem gamblers, to place the highest wagers every 20 seconds. (It’s also the reason FOBTs are known as, “video crack.”)

But the UKGC’s attack on FOBTs caused major shock waves in the gambling industry and threatened to slow down the flow of tax revenue generated by the machines, which is no small matter. Last year, FOBTs put £500 million in crown coffers. But tax revenue wouldn’t have been the only thing impacted by a cap £2 cap on FOBT wagers. Several major operators have already announced that they would no longer be able to sponsor sports teams if the wager cap went into effect due to the loss of revenue.

Some experts outside of the industry have suggested that the £2 wager might backfire anyways, in an interview with The Times, Tim Miller, executive director of the UKGC said, “or some people there is a risk that if they can bet smaller amounts they will actually spend longer playing and will engage in riskier behaviours.”

So far, there’s no word on when a final decision from the UKGC regarding FOBTs will come down.