Electronic gaming machines, otherwise known as fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), are a legitimate and popular product offered in betting shops.Out of 140,000 gaming machines currently in operation in the UK, 35,000 are located in betting shops. That number has remained stable for the past three years.
Over the past few months, gaming machines have been heavily criticised by some for causing an increase in the level of problem gambling. However, there is no empirical evidence of a causal link between gaming machines and problem gambling.
The average amount spent by a customer on a B2 gaming machine is circa £10 per machine per hour. What’s more, as shown by the 2010 British Gambling Prevalence Survey (BGPS), only 70% of B2 players play a machine once a month or less.
Most importantly however is that research shows that problem gambling is about the player, not the product. Problem gamblers are far more likely to gamble on a range of products available to them be it online, a scratch card, the national lottery, bingo or a machine.
Electronic gaming machines are just one type of gambling product offered in the UK, with the most popular being the National Lottery. They represent an industry that, like any other business, is adapting to the technological advances of today’s world in order to meet the demand of their customers.
Nevertheless, we take our responsibilities to protecting our customers extremely seriously and understand that some concerns have been raised. As a responsible industry, we are fully committed to protecting our customers and ensuring that they are provided with a range of tools to avoid irresponsible gambling and thus avoid gambling related harm to themselves or others.
The industry’s new Code for Player Protection and Responsible Gambling outlines several new consumer protection measures that should make a real difference. For machines, these new measures include voluntary monetary and time limits; mandatory time-based and monetary reminders; and providing access to gambling history on cards.