The GB Gambling Commission has called on operators not to attempt to circumvent the new limits on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) and ensure that they remain committed to protecting their customers from gambling-related harm.
From today (April 1), the maximum stake on all FOBT machines in the UK will be lowered to £2 (€2.33/$2.61) per spin, down from the previous limit of £100.
The Government had initially planned to introduce the new changes in October, but criticism from backbenchers and the resignation of Minister Tracey Crouch pushed the Government to bring the implementation date forward.
The Commission has now issued a warning to operators not to let their responsible gambling standards slip in the wake of the changes. The regulator has written to all licensees to remind them of their responsibilities to protect their customers.
Commission chief executive Neil McArthur said that the regulator has been monitoring operators’ plans to manage the implementation of the stake cut and will continue to observe licensees to ensure that any changes or new product launches to mitigate the cuts are carried out “with a focus on customer safety”.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Jeremy Wright, the UK’s Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, echoed McArthur’s comments, saying that while the reduction in maximum stake is a “significant step forward in protecting vulnerable people”, more must be done to protect consumers.
Wright said: “The Government’s actions and ambitions stretch much further and we are looking at further treatment of those who have suffered from gambling-related harm, whether gambling on credit should be limited and considering what actions are necessary to tackle problem gambling online.”
The maximum stake reduction is part of an ongoing Commission effort to boost protection measures for consumers. The regulator is also currently looking at making changes to other Category B machines available on the high street, to help protect the consumer, including tracking play, using time, monetary limits and alerts, and communicating messages about gambling safely.
Elsewhere, the Commission is tightening up rules for online gambling, with new identity and age check rules due to come into force from May to reduce the risk of children gambling online.
Other measures currently under consideration include banning the use of credit cards for online gambling, the introduction of industry-funded gambling blocking software, and improving how operators interact with a customer that may be experiencing gambling-related harm
Next month the regulator will launch its new national strategy , developed in consultation with consumers, gambling businesses and other groups, that will set out how the organisation intends to reduce gambling harms.