It has been a long time of waiting and controversy regarding the cutting down of the maximum stake of the FOBTs. Everybody in the industry has been bracing for the application of the stake reduction from 100 to 2 pounds. It finally happened, on the first of April, and the UKGC implemented it with a warning that warned the operators that they have to comply with the new rules in the maximum stake.
The UKGC Comments on the Application of the FOBTs Stake Reduction
The Chief Executive of the UKGC, Neil McArthur, has repeated to the bookmakers what the UK regulator is expecting, and how they should manage these changes. He stated that they have been monitoring the different plans of the operators closely, regarding how they are going to handle the reduction in stakes. He also added that they would continue to closely watch the operators make sure that the changes and the development of their products are happening with a keen focus on the safety of the customers.
On the other hand, some operators and bookmakers seem to be bypassing the new FOBTs maximum stake rules. They achieved that with new roulette-style games. According to the Guardian, bookmakers launched new roulette-style games with high-stakes on the 1st of April, which is the same day the new restrictions became effective.
How Are Some Bookmakers working around the New Rule?
The Guardian revealed that Betfred is one of these operators, as it began to offer a new game called Virtual Cycling. The new game is a roulette styled game that allows the UK players to place a bet on a piece of paper that they can get on the counter. The bet slip has a graphic that is very similar to the one on a roulette table, and this new game has a max stake of 500 GBP.
Paddy Power, similarly, also launched a new gambling game Pick ‘n’ 36, which has a maximum bet of 100 GBP. The Paddy Power new game lets the players bet on a number between one and thirty-six, as well as other stake options that are similar to that of a roulette game. There is also a TV screen that displays cold and hot number, which gives the impression that the numbers are not random.
Labour’s Minister Comments on the New Games
Tom Watson, the Labour’s shadow culture minister, stated that the new games seem like FOBTs, and represent a disgraceful example of the bad faith of the bookmakers. He added that it is evident that they are trying to find their way around, and cheat the system. He also added that the entire gambling industry fought for the reform of the FOBTs, to prevent the social harm that they caused, and it seems that they haven’t learned the lesson.
MP Tracey Crouch stated that any attempts by the bookmaker that aim to circumnavigate the measures that will reduce gambling harm are morally irresponsible. The executive director of the UKGC, Helen Benn, stated that they are aware of the existing of these products and that they are currently investigating them.