High street betting stores are expected to ‘lose jobs’ over the recent crackdown in fixed odds betting machines (FOBTs). New rules coming into place in April 2019 will see the maximum stake changed from £100 to just £2, something that is expected to impact the profits and business of high street bookmakers such as Ladbrokes, William Hill and Coral.
Betting machines are commonly seen in every high street bookmaker, with the first introduced in the UK in 1999 and currently 33,000 now around the country, estimated to be worth £1.83bn in 2017.
The machines are loud, bright and unsupervised and claiming to be ‘highly addictive’ by MPs, gamblers able to lose hundreds of pounds within minutes – hence the strong push for a maximum stake.
Sports Minister resignation reverses delay
The campaign has been pushed by sports minister Tracey Crouch who would like to see the £1.6 billion spent on fruit machines and betting screens to be put back into her local constituency.
An expected delay of 18 months for the new laws, caused Crouch to resign last week as she passionately stayed true to her cause. But such as a drastic decision has received the support of fellow politicians and moved the new law forward by 6 months, it was announced yesterday.
Betting stores on the high street have complained that the new decision will ‘lose jobs’ and deeply impact their industry, however ex-sports minister crouch has also highlighted the number of gambling addicts that have taken their own lives as a result of high street betting. But it is also having an opposite effect since shares for Ladbrokes increased 8% upon hearing the news and William Hill’s shares went up 2.2% as investors are more confident in a safer consumer industry.
Regardless, the online gambling industry continues to soar with an estimated market value of £13.9 billion in the UK. Whether betting on sports results or playing bingo or slots online, it is a large and thriving business which now could be ripe for further regulation.
In particular, new players are attracted by a no deposit bonus and receiving free spins or plays when they register. However, to maintain this, online casinos must manage expectations and limit players to a certain number of bets or must still make some form of deposit in order to withdraw their winnings.