UK Gambling Operators Continue to Suffer After Dramatic FOBTs Stake Cut
Posted at: 03 December 2019
In Аpril 2019, the max stake of the fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) was slashed from £100 to £2. A few months later, the record reduction is taking its toll and even the largest bookmakers need to make tough decisions regarding betting shop closures.
Market analysts define the massive shop closures as unprecedented. According to data, published by the Mail, the drastic stake reduction led to roughly 4 shop closures per day in the period April – November 2019. The betting shops' revenue decreased by more than 60% as well.
Currently, more than 1,000 betting shops are at risk of closure by 2022. Likewise, hundreds of people are at risk of losing their jobs. If these predictions come true, and the UK authorities remain adamant to review the max FOBTs stake size, the UK players will end up with merely 6,400 shops and 11, 000 newly unemployed within the next three years.
According to the presented data, Ladbrokes Coral is planning to close 700 shops, Betfred will close 500. The largest Scottish bookmaker Scotbet also closed hundreds of shops. William Hill is expected to close 700 shops, although in November 2019, it announced that it was “on track” with the revenue, despite the stake cut.
Betting companies both large and small, have no choice but to adapt to the new circumstances. The FOBTs crisis happens amidst increased Brexit pressure and negative attitude towards politicians focused into the upcoming elections and showing little sympathy to betting shop associates who already lost their jobs or are at risk of losing it.
However, the FOBT stake reduction was not the sole measure the UK authorities implemented with the aim of making gambling less attractive. Players are no longer allowed to try games even in demo mode unless they confirm they are at least 18 years of age. Game studios had to remove the Bonus Buy Feature from their slots. Advertisement restrictions were also imposed. Players might be prohibited from making deposits via credit card. The UKGC also regularly slaps operators with hefty fines for social responsibility and AML failures.
Where Does It All End?
The UK Betting and Gaming Council introduced the Anonymous Player Awareness System that will be integrated into the FOBTs. The APAS’ algorithm analyses player’s activity and imposes a mandatory cool-off period. In addition, APAS notifies the betting shop staff, and if they consider it relevant, they can provide a Responsible Gambling Interaction.
Meanwhile, the so-called amusement arcades are gaining momentum, and players see them as an escape from the stagnant measures authorities keep enacting.