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UK – Regulator warns gambling industry not to circumvent FOBT stake cut

By - 31 March 2019

With the £2 stake limit on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (B2 machines) comes into force today (Monday April 1), the Gambling Commission has written to bookmakers to remind them of their responsibilities in ensuring consumers are protected. 

From Monday April 1, the maximum stake that can be offered on the gaming machines will drop from £100 to £2 per spin. The new rules are intended to reduce the risks that players can lose large amounts of money in a short space of time. Ahead of the implementation, the Gambling Commission’s chief executive has reiterated to bookmakers the regulator’s expectations about how the changes should be managed. 

Neil McArthur, chief executive of the Gambling Commission, said: “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.

“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.”

Jeremy Wright, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “Reducing the potential loss per spin from £100 to £2 is a significant step forward in protecting vulnerable people. 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 Gambling Commission is looking closely at player protection on other high street machines. Data indicates that the risks associated with Category B1 and B3 machines merit close scrutiny the reason why the Commission said last year in its advice to Government that it wanted to explore player protection options further. Those options include tracking play, using time and monetary limits and alerts, and communicating messages about gambling safely. 

Elsewhere, the Gambling Commission is tightening up rules for online gambling and in May new identity and age check rules come into force which will guard against the risk of children gambling, prevent children from playing free-to-play versions of gambling games on licensees’ websites, and increase the likelihood that someone will be identified if they attempt to gamble while self-excluded.

The Gambling Commission is also currently examining new areas for potential change including banning the use of credit cards for online gambling, the introduction of industry funded gambling blocking software, and improving the ways operators interact with a customer who may be experiencing gambling-related harm.

In addition, next month the Commission will be launching its new national strategy to reduce gambling harms - focusing the priorities for the Commission and partners to support prevention and treatment.

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