Journalism / News

New limits on fixed odds betting terminals set to have an effect on the gambling industry

Bookmakers are bracing themselves for restrictions on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) and a new requirement to fund a  gambling awareness campaign, as part of a government review.

As the government looks to heavily cut the limit people can spend on fixed odds betting terminals, what impact will this have on customers experience using the betting terminals?

One of the hot topics recently has been the amount of money people spend on fixed odds betting terminals as punters are able to lump up to £300 every minute into the machines.

The maximum stake on the machines could be slashed from £100 to £2, ministers have announced, and punters can currently pump £100 every 20 seconds into betting shop gaming machines, which have been labelled the “the crack cocaine of gambling”.

The Government is launching a 12-week consultation to investigate lowering maximum stakes to between £50 and £2.

Up and down the country bookmakers are scattered across high streets and town centres, attracting thousands of customers every day.

Many customers go into the shops to place bets on sporting events such as horse racing, the greyhounds or football accumulators, however the majority are then swayed to have a gamble on the fixed odds betting terminals.

Each bookie normally has around six to eight of these machines situated inside the shop, making them easily accessible for customers.

According to the Guardian, there are around 34,000 FOBTs currently in operation in the UK, generating about £1.4bn in profits every year for bookmakers.

The machines have up to a hundred games to play including the like of slots and blackjack.

Arguably the most addictive of all the games is roulette, which is a customer’s favourite.

Punters see them as a straightforward way to make some quick money, with the temptation of been able to win a couple hundred quid in a short space of time.

However, people fail to recognise that it can swing the other way and can find themselves racking up debt in no time.

Customers have the choice to do outside bets which give even odds betting on things like red or black, or odd or even.

For the risktakers they can also do inside bets, placing money on certain numbers which gives you odds of 36/1.

The lure of winning cash quick is what makes the roulette as well as many other games on the machines so addictive.

One person who will be impacted by the new limits is 23-year-old George Hunt from Richmond North Yorkshire.

George visits his local bookmaker William Hill almost every day, calling in after work to spend the majority of his wages.

George Hunt playing roulette on the gambling machines.

The addiction is something George has been struggling with since he turned 18, one which started on his phone, before forcing him to visit the bookmakers every day.

George explained how he never knows how much he is going to spend each time he goes into the shop, and his addiction can leave him “financially unstable” at times, struggling to pay his rent.

“I don’t go in there with a limit on how much I want to win or how much I’m going to spend, I just see how it goes.”

“Sometimes I can be fifty sixty quid down in a matter of moments and then I’m chasing my losses which is when it doesn’t end well.”

“Having my own place means I have bills to pay, and it can hinge on how the betting is going, some weeks I’m left with money spare if the gambling goes well, others I’m having to lend off my mates, which can be a nightmare.”

I think if the limits are brought in then it will certainly benefit how I spend spare money as well as others.”

George mentioned how his “love” for the machines wont change, as he enjoys the thrill of the thought of winning money no matter how much.

The roulette is a favourite of Georges, and says he like the instant rush of adrenaline he gets as he waits to see where the ball lands.

However, the crackdown on the amount people can spend on fixed odds betting terminals wont only have an effect on the customers themselves.

Shop workers will also be happy to see the new limits set in place, as they hope it will curve out bad behaviour inside the shop.

A lot of the users on the machines are from the younger generation, and it can often impact the experience of other customers who want a friendly atmosphere.

I spoke to former Betfred shop worker Sam King who worked in Darlington, about what he thinks the benefits are from the government introducing new limits.

Sam 28, worked at his local shop on Darlington high street for over two years, and witnessed the effects that the fixed odds betting terminals had on customers.


Betfred worker Sam King before his shift in the shop.


“The whole betting industry has been crying out for these limits to be set on the machines.”

“You always get your regulars who come in for hours and play on the machines, who are polite.”

“But then you get certain customers especially younger people who lose a lot of money and start becoming aggressive, and it makes the atmosphere in the shop unpleasant.”
Sam explained how the new limits will go a long way to reducing anti-social behaviour in bookmakers and will make customers experience in the shops less stressful if they lose money.

The number of FOBTs has risen from 20,000 in 2005 to 34,388 today, and are accused of being behind a sharp rise in gambling addiction.

The government are aware that they need to tackle this issue and are currently in negotiations to set a limit on the machines.

There is still a long way to go in attempts to curve thousands of gambling addictions, but new limits on the machines will go a long way to help Georges addiction as well as many others.

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