Fixed-odds betting review – beginning of the end for high-stakes gambling on the high-street?

Latest Harris 24 research

Otto Squire

Dubbed the “Crack Cocaine” of gambling by critics, Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) – the electronic ‘casino-style’ games machines in high-street betting shops – currently allow users to bet £100 on a single spin (equivalent to £300 per minute) and have been strongly associated with ‘problem gambling’ behaviour since they first appeared.

And so in October last year, amid growing calls for tighter regulation, the Government announced a “call for evidence” on the number and location of gaming machines, and a review into the Social Responsibility measures in place to protect players. The main proposal of which is widely expected to result in a reduction in the maximum stake a user can place on a FOBT machine (from the current £100 down to as little as £2).

Since then, UK Bookmakers (who according to the Gambling Commission derive upwards of 50% of their profits from FOBT machines) have been on hold as they await the results of this highly anticipated and potentially industry-changing review.

On the 31st October 2017, it was announced the 12-week Government consultation has begun!

In response to the news, Harris Interactive launched a nationally representative Harris 24 poll surveying 2,000 members of the public in just 5 hours. We asked the nation about their gambling habits, exploring their views on:

  • What forms of gambling are worst in terms of ‘Problem Gambling’ behaviour
  • Trust & responsibility (the gambling industry, individual companies, and the Government)
  • The review itself (awareness, attitudes, and the potential impact on their gambling behaviour)

Our research shows nearly half the Nation are aware of the Government review into gambling regulations, which is welcomed by the UK public.

  • More than 3 in 4 (76%) agree that gambling is a problem in society, with a similar number saying the Government should do more to regulate the industry. Clearly the public believe that the Government should be driving this
  • However, this is not just a problem for the Government. A similar number say that gambling companies and the Government are not doing enough to tackle ‘Problem Gambling’
  • More than 4 in 5 (84%) agree there’s too many opportunities to gamble
  • Different methods of gambling are regarded very differently with online perceived worst in encouraging ‘Problem Gambling’. FOBTs are perceived 3rd worst behind online casino games and online slots

When it came to the issue of FOBTs specifically – the UK public agree they are a problem, a sentiment shared by FOBT users themselves.

  • 9 in 10 (89%) of the public agree the maximum bet should be reduced, with the majority suggesting a maximum of £2 or £5
  • 3 in 4 (74%) agree FOBTs encourage people to get into debt
  • Indeed, 3 in 10 FOBT users claimed to have got into debt as a direct result of FOBT betting
  • However, reducing the maximum bet doesn’t seem to be a solution to a ‘gambling problem’ as most would keep playing or change to other means of betting

It is clear from this research that there is overwhelming support from the UK public for safer measures, particularly on FOBT betting.

We’ll be following the news of the 12-week Government consultation closely, and will launch another Harris 24 poll immediately as the news breaks and the new measures are revealed.

Get in touch to find out how Harris 24 can help you get the answers you need quickly!

Harris 24 survey conducted by Harris Interactive on 3rd November 2017 between the hours of 12.00 midday and 5.00pm amongst a sample of 2095 UK adults aged 18+

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