Tuesday 17 November 2020

The Rise and Fall of FOBTs in the UK

Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) have been operating in UK gambling for the past two decades. Considering a variety of games they offer punters, FOBT machines have been performing immensely on bingo, horse racing (virtual), roulette, and slots. 

On a sad note, FOBT machines have faced massive uproar and backlash from lawmakers and gaming regulators within recent years.  

But what can be the reasons behind the rise and fall of FOBTs in the UK? Well, we have answered this question in the discussion below. 

Emergence of FOBTs  

FOBTs started entering the UK market in the year 2000. The fruit machines were dominant in pubs, clubs, casinos, service stations, and any legal joint you could find them. 

By the year 2004, the Brits had witnessed over 20,000 FOBTs spreading across most towns and villages. Betting shops were becoming like casinos at this point.  

Gambling Restrictions Imposed 

In 2005, a Gambling Act was enacted limiting FOBTs in betting shops. At this point, each betting shop was allowed to operate four fixed odds terminals only. 

This law hit hard bookmakers as this saw them reducing the number of machines they offered in each location. Interestingly, some clever bookers started opening more locations so that they could offer additional fixed-odds terminals. 

Pressure from Government and Media 

Due to the controversy associated with FOBTs addiction, strict gambling laws were enforced by the government. There was also more pressure from conservative MPs and anti-gambling groups. At this time, the media was every week publishing a new article highlighting the story of someone whose life has been ruined by gambling. 

Maximum Stakes Reduced From £100 per Round to £2 

In early 2017, FOBTs drew the attention of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport. This is the time when FOBTs were branded as the “crack cocaine of gambling.” 

In May 2018, the bookmarkers suffered another big blow when the maximum stake for FOBTs was slashed from £100 per Round to £2. They tried to argue that that the reduced stakes would force them to close shops and cut jobs, but this only landed on deaf ears as the government was too firm on their decision.

FOBTs Today

Despite facing all these obstacles, FOBTs are still widespread in the UK. You won’t fail to find one of the FOBT outlets if you’re in a decent-sized town. 

Though in smaller quantities, there are high chances of FOBTs returning to the UK market in near future.

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