The Fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) have been the cause of some political divide and concern for gaming businesses and politicians in the United Kingdom and Norther Ireland. However, bookmakers are now setting the trend, with more companies opting voluntarily into restricting the segment.
More Irish Bookmakers to Opt Out of FOBTs High-Stakes
Last year, the United Kingdom saw two major debates about the gambling industry in the country, although there were a number of pressing issues discussed.
There has been a lot of talk about tightening advertisement rules, fixing the newly-discovered issues with GamStop, the national self-exclusion scheme, and making sure that the industry becomes even more customer-focused, with taxes going up in November to 21% of the GGR for online bookmakers & casinos.
The debate about the Fixed Betting Odds (FOBTs) has been one of the most dramatic, prompting Minister Tracey Crouch to step down from office over the alleged complicity of lawmakers with the segment, which was cited to be a cause of suicides in the United Kingdom.
The tragedy of lives lost due to suicide has to be our absolute priority here. Former Minister for Culture and Youth Tracey Crouch cited by the Guardian
Northern Ireland’s own bookmakers are now setting an example with McLeans and Toals, two of the largest companies in the country, announcing that they would voluntarily slash their FOBTs limits to conform with the £2 introduced in the United Kingdom.
A Friendly Advice by the NITGA Concerning the FOBTs
The Northern Ireland Turf Guardians’ Association (NITGA) has issued a recommendation that all bookmakers should consider transitioning to the UK-backed restrictions on FOBTs coming into effect in April, 2019.
While no open political debate has been broached in Northern Ireland, it seems logical to proceed with a voluntary restriction and adapt to a new way of running business, especially at a time when the UK Gambling Commission is tightening its regulations and setting an example for others.
It’s important to note that the UK Gambling Commission has little say over what happens in Northern Ireland’s own gaming industry. The country’s regulated by the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Northern Ireland) and not by the Gambling Act 2005.
With 60 and 50 proprietary shops for McLeans and Toals in Norther Ireland respectively, the pair of brands join the Paddy Power and William Hill shops to have agreed to the change, bringing the total number of shops opting for the voluntary measure to 230 (out of Northern Ireland’s 300 operating properties).
NITGA’s Fleshes Out the Details about the Situation
NITGA has been lucky to meet with a lot of local support, making the task at hand far easier to accomplish. Understandably, there are still some technical preoccupations cited by bookmakers to be able to fully enact the rule. Here’s what a NITGA spokesperson said for the Irish News:
We have been consulting with our membership over the past number of months and operators, including A McLean Bookmakers, Toals Bookmakers, Ladbrokes Coral, William Hill and Paddy Power have confirmed that FOBTs within their betting shops will align with the £2 maximum stake.
It’s been largely agreed that slashing the maximum stake removed the “addictive” element from the experience by dealing away with the “toxic miss of rapid speed and very high stakes.”