Many of us who play online casinos will also have dabbled on FOBTs in our local betting shops.
The changes to fixed-odds betting terminals brought in by the UKGC meant a maximum bet of just £2 down from £100 which has shaken up high street bookmakers and resulted in shop closures and loss of jobs.
This isn’t surprising as William Hill the giant bookmaker made over half it’s annual profits from these machines, and according to the UKGC, the FOBTs generate over £1.8 Billion per year for the betting industry.
Fast forward 18 months and the UK government is at it again, this time they are looking to place stricter limits at online casinos to limit what players from the UK can bet on slots, roulette and games.
A few days ago over £1 billion was wiped off the share price of Britains biggest online casinos and betting sites when news of more interference from the Gambling Related Harm All-Party Parliamentary Group started looking for changes.
The overall consensus is that a £2 stake limit is highly likely to be enforced regarding online slots and possibly other games too. This is a controversial move and one which is guaranteed to divide peoples option.
While it’s good to protect the vulnerable from the dangers of gambling many see this as more “nanny State” behaviour and trying to control what people do online.
Iain Duncan Smith, vice-chairman of the group said:
‘FOR TOO LONG, ONLINE GAMBLING OPERATORS HAVE EXPLOITED VULNERABLE GAMBLERS TO LITTLE OR NO RETRIBUTION FROM THE REGULATOR. WE CANNOT CONTINUE TO FAIL VULNERABLE GAMBLERS.’
‘I THEREFORE URGE THE COMMISSION TO LOOK INTO THIS ISSUE IN GREATER DEPTH. IT IS OUTRAGEOUS THAT THERE ARE NOT STAKE LIMITS ONLINE, THAT GAMBLERS ARE STILL ABLE TO GAMBLE USING CREDIT CARDS ONLINE AND THAT OPERATORS ARE ABLE TO CONTINUE TO OFFER INDUCEMENTS TO THE VULNERABLE WITHOUT PROPER SANCTION.’
Source: BBC news article
A UKGC spokesperson said:
‘WE ARE DISAPPOINTED THAT THIS REPORT HAS BEEN RELEASED BEFORE WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE CHANCE TO GIVE EVIDENCE TO THE APPG.
‘THE REPORT DOES NOT REFLECT OUR CONSIDERABLE ACTION AND PROGRESS ON MOST OF THE AREAS OF CONCERN SET OUT IN THE REPORT AND WE LOOK FORWARD TO BEING GIVEN THE CHANCE TO OUTLINE THAT WORK TO THE APPG.’
Online casinos that want to accept players from the UK already have to be licensed and regulated by the UKGC and conform to its strict rules. These include checks for fairness and huge fines for not being responsible.
Many of the best online casinos left the UK market entirely when this action was taken and we believe many will do so again if this limit is introduced.
We ourselves are subject to UKGC regulation and have to be very careful when showing readers any UK casino.
Compiling a list of the best online casinos is already a tricky task, which is about to become even more so.
Currently, you can find lists such as the top 20 online casinos UK which all have a unique edge over other sites. This was compiled by Casino Professor which is an online comparison site that specialises in reviewing online casinos. However, if a £2 betting stake is introduced, we’re not sure there will be enough sites left for such lists!
I think there has to be a common-sense approach to the matter. How to enforce this when people could simply join a non-UK regulated casino instead of having limits in place is impossible.
Affordability checks would be an invasion of privacy. One thing I do believe should be changed is that credit cards should not be allowed for use in gambling-related activities.
I’m pretty much torn over this and am interested to see how the whole saga unfolds over the coming weeks, months and years!