UKGC issues warning as new FOBT stakes enter into force

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has issued a warning to the industry as the new £2 maximum stakes for fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) enter into force on 1 April.

Slot machines

The new FOBT stake entered into force on 1 April. © Pixabay.

The Commission has written to operators to remind them of their duty of protecting customers, as the new stake of £2 down from £100 entered into force on Monday.

The new stake was introduced mainly as a player protection method and the UKGC is confident the move will have the desired effect. It is also investigating the impact of other games and has launched a consultation for feedback from the public.

The UKGC has worked with operators since the ruling to help them prepare for the change. It will continue to monitor the implementation of the new policy, as Neil McArthur, Gambling Commission chief executive explained.

We have been closely monitoring operators’ plans to manage the implementation of the stake cut and we will continue to watch very carefully to ensure that any changes and developments to these products are done with a focus on customer safety. Neil McArthur, Gambling Commission chief executive

However, the UKGC fears that this stake cut may not be enough. In a post on its website, the Commission stated it is investigating whether similar moves on other high-street gambling machines are required, as McArthur further outlined:

Together with Government and the industry we must continue our ongoing work to make the whole industry safer – this includes continuing to make progress with making other products safer, as customers may move to gamble in other ways following the stake cut – including online, mobile and on the high street. It’s imperative that operators invest in and use data, technology and measures to identify harmful play and can step in to protect players when needed. They should be innovating to protect their customers, as much as they do to make a profit.Neil McArthur, Gambling Commission chief executive

Operators’ reactions to the stake cut have been well documented. All are expecting massive revenue drops and are planning accordingly, with many focusing on a more digital-first policy. William Hill are concentrating on their flourishing US business.

Ladbrokes Coral plans to close around 3,500 retail outlets and make around 5,000 staff redundant due to the change.

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