Guardian: Punters Bet £700m Less on Gambling Since FOBTs Changes

Provisional data by the UK Gambling Commission has revealed that punters wagered £700 million between April 2019 and March 2020. Yet, the Betting and Gaming Council believes the industry impact has been much bigger than reported.

FOBTs Numbers Don’t Drop as Badly, Says The Guardian

A new article published in The Guardian argues that punters have bet £700 million less on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) since sweeping changes were introduced in April 2019 to address societal issues stemming from the rate of problem gambling associated with these products.

At the time, it was predicted that more than 20,000 jobs would be put at risk. The article published by Rob Davies evoked a trope from the past where gambling companies argued that 4,500 shops might have to close alongside 21,000 jobs.

Davies cited data published by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) which stated that the number of licensed gambling establishments in the country fell by 685 venues to 10,098 or a 6.4% decrease, of which 639 were betting premises.

He further argued that the decline was not entirely to blame on the FOBTs changes, but rather on a mix of factors, including gambling companies’ own strategy to “woo customers online,” in what is apparently a bid to save costs, Davies argued.

The Outlook Isn’t So Bright, Says Betting and Gaming Council

Data lag. This is how the Betting & Gaming Council (BGC), a respected industry body, describes the numbers published by the United Kingdom’s regulator. In real terms, the BGC expects the number of actual shutdowns to be closer to 1,400 shops along with 8,000 jobs lost.

In a short twitter exchange, Davies and the Betting Council sought to clarify the data. Davies asked whether the UK Gambling Commission’s data was wrong after the BGC called the data cited in the article such.

The BGC explained that the numbers were provisional and therefore not caught up to the actual numbers, which were closer to 1,455 betting shops shuttered and 8,700 jobs lost during April 2019 and March 2020.

In his article, Davies mentioned Clean Up Gambling’s Matt Zarb-Cousin who has called for ministers to take industry statements with a pinch of salt in light of a coming review of the Gambling Act.

Saving Gamblers £700m in Life-Altering Losses

Reading through the numbers, Davies explained that the amount wagered on fixed-odds betting terminals fell from £1.16 billion to £12 million, and elaborated that the amount spent on B3 games has increased from £1.1 billion to £1.5 billion.

According to the article, the overall amount spent on FOBTs declined by £700 million to just £2.1 billion. Should BGC’s numbers be correct, though, and the UKGC’s numbers are provisional and not factoring the full impact the FOBTs reductions have had on the gambling industry yet.

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