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01 Apr 19 19:34
Date Joined: 26 Jun 08
| Topic/replies: 5,869 | Blogger: leif's blog
Bookmakers accused of bypassing FOBT rules with roulette-style games

New high-stakes games pop up after government reduces stakes from £100 to £2

Bookmakers have been accused of trying to cheat rules curbing fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) after a Guardian investigation found high-stakes roulette-style games being launched on the same day restrictions on the machines came into force.

A reduction in FOBT stakes from £100 to £2 was introduced on Monday, after the government branded them a “social blight” following a long-running campaign highlighting huge losses suffered by gamblers, some of them addicts.

But less than 48 hours after the industry regulator warned bookmakers against trying to bypass the law, high street firms were accused of doing just that. The Gambling Commission said on Monday it was investigating the new products.

The new games launched by bookmakers Betfred and Paddy Power prompted condemnation from campaigners, former sports minister Tracey Crouch and Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson, who branded them “FOBTs by the back door”. William Hill is planning a similar product but has yet to launch it.

Sports minister Mims Davies said: “We cut FOBT stakes to £2 to protect vulnerable people from gambling-related harm, and operators should respect both the letter and the spirit of that change.

“We are watching very closely to see how the industry reacts to this measure and will not hesitate to act if we see evidence of harm.”

Betfred began offering a roulette-style game on Monday, even as restrictions on FOBTs were imposed despite vociferous lobbying by bookmakers, who warned 4,500 stores could close at the cost of 21,000 jobs.

The game, called Virtual Cycling, allows gamblers to place bets on a piece of paper obtained over the counter, showing a graphic similar to a roulette table. The game features a maximum stake of £500, five times what was possible on the FOBT games that are now banned. Players bet on when an animated cyclist travelling around a track will be overtaken by virtual competitors, based on numbers corresponding to sections of the track.

A spokesman for Betfred said: “Bets for all these products need to be filled out on a betting slip and handed over at the counter, where our staff can interact with the customers as they do so. These are not machine games but over-the-counter bets.”

The numbers from 1 to 36 echo those featured on a roulette wheel, as does the opportunity to bet on odd or even and groups of numbers.

An employee in one Betfred outlet told The Guardian: “It just came in this morning. It really reminds you of roulette.”

Paddy Power’s game is called Pick ‘n’ 36 and features a maximum stake of £100, the same level as FOBTs before the new restrictions. Like Betfred’s Virtual Cycling game, players bet on numbers between 1 and 36, as well as on other eventualities similar to roulette. A TV screen displays “hot” and “cold” numbers, giving the impression that the numbers selected are not random – a feature heavily criticised by the GambleAware charity.

A staff member in a Paddy Power branch described the game as the “new roulette” and said it had been on trial in several of the company’s 320 stores from Monday. While the stakes are as high as FOBTs, the games are less frequent, running once every three minutes, compared to once every 20 seconds.

The Guardian has approached Paddy Power for comment.

William Hill is testing a game called Wonderball, which will allow customers to stake up to £50 by filling in boxes on a printed roulette board. A draw then takes place on TV screens, with prizes of up to £25,000 available. A betting slip, which will be handed out to customers if the game is launched nationwide, describes it as a “fixed odds betting event”.

“It’s just like roulette but the spin is on the TV screen,” an employee in a William Hill shop told the Guardian, adding that the game was not yet available but was likely to be launched soon.

A William Hill spokesman said: “We are committed to player protection under our ‘nobody harmed’ ambition and any product we may choose to launch will be fully assessed from this standpoint and will only be launched after full engagement with the regulator.”

All of the games technically comply with FOBT laws, which cover £100-a-spin roulette on self-service machines.

But MPs and campaigners lined up to criticise bookmakers for apparently seeking to circumvent the spirit of the rules.

Labour’s shadow culture minister, Tom Watson, said: “These new games seem like FOBTs by the back door and look like a pretty disgraceful example of bad faith by the bookmakers involved. They appear to be trying to cheat the system.

“The gambling industry fought FOBTs reform tooth and nail, never accepting the terrible social harm they caused. They clearly haven’t learned any lessons – if they won’t reform themselves a Labour government is determined to do it for them.”

Tracey Crouch MP, who resigned as sports minister in anger at a proposed delay to FOBT curbs, said: “Any attempts to circumnavigate measures that reduce harm would be morally irresponsible. If bookmakers had taken their responsibilities for player protection more seriously there wouldn’t have been a need for government or regulator intervention.”

Helen Venn, executive director at the Gambling Commission, said: “We are aware of these products and we are investigating. We have been extremely clear about our expectations in relation to how operators should implement the stake reduction. This is why we have been monitoring developments closely and last week we wrote to operators to remind them of their responsibilities to ensure consumers are protected. Where we see businesses failing to act responsibly in response to the stake reduction we will not hesitate to step in.’’
Pause Switch to Standard View Bookmakers Circumventing new FOBT rules?
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Report leif April 1, 2019 8:39 PM BST
William Hill jumping on the 'drop our rent' bandwagon at the same time they're implementing 'games' that are just as damaging to the welfare of gamblers with addictions.

Looks like you can have your cake and eat it?
Report leif April 1, 2019 10:55 PM BST
Barney Curley called it back in June 2010, three weeks after his coup, and in response to being asked why he continued to hound the auld enemy:

So why persevere with the precarious adventures that redeemed him from the penury of younger days? "It's not for the money," Curley says. "It's for the buzz. Beat the system, you know, beat those bookmakers, those smart-arses. You go into a betting shop and see them robbing these poor fellows, with these gaming machines. They're as addictive as crack cocaine. You see them coming back to the counter with their credit cards, for another tenner. Of course the great thing about those machines is that number nine won't go to even money and win five lengths."

Seemingly, they're finding new ways to "rob them"?
Report impossible123 April 1, 2019 11:41 PM BST
Bookies are scumbags. They bleated about shop closures but surreptitiously introduced a new product just as deadly as the previous crack cocaine roulette game. It's high time the government and regulator step in, and knock this fobt machine mk 2 on the head once and for all - a removal of these machines is the only option with this blooding-sucking bookies of no moral or social consciences.

Time for a complete ban of these fobt machines, I say.
Report kevo April 1, 2019 11:59 PM BST
Has Nick Rust welcomed this new innovation from the bookmakers?
Report impossible123 April 2, 2019 12:48 AM BST
Nick Rust? He opined the societal damage by fobts was only a "perception"...
Report dustybin April 2, 2019 8:12 AM BST
This is the face of opportunism, it’s what the western society worships.

Sounds a laughably 5hit ‘game’ to me, nevertheless, all games of chance should have the same rules applied to avoid charlatans. They all should also carry in the title ‘MUG’S GAME’ for the avoidance of doubt.
Report Richie_Burnett April 2, 2019 8:32 AM BST
This is the face of opportunism, it’s what the western society worships.


We need a campaign of civil disobedience to free ourselves from such evil.
Report sparrow April 2, 2019 8:45 AM BST
Fortunately or unfortunately the man or woman in the street couldn't care less about such matters.
Report Trident April 2, 2019 11:20 AM BST
This will now be an outright ban on FOBT. You heard it here first!
Report impossible123 April 2, 2019 4:06 PM BST
I sincerely hope so even if it means shop closures; robbing the sick (mentally compromised) and desperate to pay one's wages (and bills) is just as criminal and immoral as hitting an old person with a wooden stick and taking their pension. The head honchos of these betting entities need to re-evaluate their business strategies and, most importantly their conscience.

Fobts must been banned from the high street as the bookies cannot be trusted as sole custodians of these crack cocaine betting machines.
Report leif April 2, 2019 4:47 PM BST
Bookmakers have been raking in billions from these machines so it's unsurprising they are reluctant to trade in the golden egg and I agree there should be a more considered approach to the way they are operating. I recall many moons ago when I turned eighteen and was required to sign up for membership to one of the casinos before they'd let me in and have a gamble. I often think of that era when I see people pumping hundreds and thousands into the roulette games in a betting shop on the high street with transparent windows. Times have changed.
Report dukeofpuke April 2, 2019 5:28 PM BST
bet fred and paddy just suspended their new games due to concerns from the GC
Report impossible123 April 2, 2019 5:44 PM BST
What about 'ok koral' and 'ladcrookes'? Done the same, I hope. These crack cocaine machines need to be burnt for the evils they propagate to society in general.
Report ronnie rails April 2, 2019 5:51 PM BST
fred and paddy were trying to get round the 2.00 max
corals and lads 2.00 max.
Report impossible123 April 2, 2019 6:22 PM BST
'ronnie rails', cheers! Apology if I'm ultra-sensitive to fobts, and my views reflected it.
Report leif April 2, 2019 8:37 PM BST
Bookmakers pull new games after Gambling Commission warning

Two leading UK bookmakers have pulled new high stakes betting games after a warning from the Gambling Commission.

Paddy Power and Betfred faced criticism their roulette-style games undermined new rules on fixed-odds betting.

The maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals was this week cut from £100 to £2, and the regulator warned against attempts to circumvent the rules.

Betfred said it wanted more talks with the commission, while Paddy Power said its game was only a limited trial.

The £2 cap on fixed-odds better terminals (FOBTs) was recommended by the Gambling Commission in March last year and is backed by the government as part of efforts to reduce gambling-related harm.

The Betfred game involved two cyclists on a screen in shops racing on a velodrome track with numbers on it. When the cyclist at the rear catches the one in front, the number they are on is the winning number.

The numbers are 1 to 36, mirroring those on a roulette wheel, and other bets can be placed on odd or even numbers, colours, rows and columns. Customers could bet up to £500.

Paddy Power's game, with a maximum stake of £100 - the level before this week's FOBT rule-change - also involved betting on numbers between 1 and 36.

Act responsibly
Ahead of the commission's intervention, both firms drew fire from critics. Shadow culture minister Tom Watson described them as "FOBTs through the back door".

Tracey Crouch MP, who resigned as sports minister over the delay in cutting FOBT stakes, said any attempt circumvent this week's changes to the maximum stakes "would be morally irresponsible".

In a statement on Tuesday, Richard Watson, executive director for enforcement at the commission, said: "We have been absolutely clear with operators about our expectations to act responsibly following the stake cut implementation this week.

"We have told operators to take down new products which undermine the changes, and we will investigate any other products that are not within the spirit and intention of the new rules.''

He said that a third bookmaker that was poised to launch a similar product to those at Paddy Power and Betfred had been warned against doing so.

A Betfred spokesman said: "We removed the virtual cycling game and all associated marketing at 10.30am this morning after discussions with the Gambling Commission."

A Paddy Power spokesman said: "We offer our retail customers a range of number-based betting products and this game was introduced as part of a short trial in a selection of shops. This trial concluded earlier today and we will now assess the customer response and feedback before deciding whether to launch it more widely."
Report leif April 2, 2019 8:40 PM BST
'Launch it more widely"

They should be threatened with huge fines if it sees the light of day!
Report the dealer April 2, 2019 8:48 PM BST
sorry didnt see this Leif, answered on another thread
Report leif April 2, 2019 8:55 PM BST
hey np.

Do you think Hills were waiting to see what happened to the others before releasing their virtual Tour de bank Account lol?
Report the dealer April 2, 2019 9:01 PM BST
not sure, i believe all marketing in shops and waiting on a launch date.

nothing to be displayed or on view and put back indefinitely
Report leif April 2, 2019 9:17 PM BST
Swept them under the carpet I expect.

The engineers will be in tomorra speeding the spin cycles up. Get those buggers filling the slots up quickly ffs. They'll be asking for more than the four machines limit next.
Report Big Boss April 2, 2019 9:18 PM BST
fantastic news that these new games have been gazumped, what on earth were they thinking introducing these on the day the fobt stakes were reduced, politically inept and morally stupid
Report the dealer April 2, 2019 9:20 PM BST
can only be put down to pure greed BB. an astonishing decision to put them in on the first day and on grand national week.
Report the dealer April 2, 2019 9:22 PM BST
should we be surprised though ?????

sums up the industry at the moment, if we can even call it that
Report Big Boss April 2, 2019 9:22 PM BST
if I had any betting accounts left then I would boycott them Laugh
Report the dealer April 2, 2019 9:25 PM BST
1/5th the odds first 5 on the National with most retail shops and they will sell it as the best offer ever
Report the dealer April 2, 2019 9:26 PM BST
the sad thing is the average joe punter will think it is Grin
Report jamee1 April 2, 2019 10:38 PM BST
Yes I'm supportive of the FOTB stake reduction. I've seen the consequences. I'm surprised actually that the bookies launched these new games at the same time the ban came into force, would've thought would have seen these new games live at least several months in advance.

One secondary point though, as presumably we're all on Betfair to make money, when we profit we do so it at the expense of other punters. Dont you think it's a little hypocritical to be popping at the Bookies for doing the same?
Report RothmanMike April 2, 2019 10:56 PM BST
You seem to be a clued up person Jamie. GrinGrin
Report impossible123 April 2, 2019 11:39 PM BST
'jamee1', Fobt is addictive, loaded, super repetitive and a game of chance only - no skill needed with no risk to bookies. Here, at the Exchange any recreational/wannabe "bookie" is competing with others who could be professional punters/traders/bookies, etc - still hypocritical, you think?
Report jamee1 April 3, 2019 12:20 AM BST
Yeah I think I do. Say if you found a way to bank an average 3% profit over time across all horse races from a particular rule, eg laying the favourite in handicaps 10+ runners, you would do it, right? Easy money. BUT this would of course be at the expense of anyone backing said favourites.

I do think that sometimes Betfair traders forget they are winning money from other punters (including many "mug" punters of course).

Every £100 you win is £105 out of someone else's pocket!
Report FELIX April 3, 2019 7:35 AM BST
Surely these games are nothing more than variants on existing virtual racing events which are in reality nothing more than a weighted form of roulette?
Unless bookmakers have been acting illegally for the last 20 years or so (remember Rapido) I don't see that the Gambling Commission have a leg to stand on either restricting the games or taking action against executives under current legislation.
Imposing restrictions on what can be taken over the counter without primary legislation is the thin edge of the wedge, £2 max on anything will be the ultimate goal, at least it will save the Bookmakers from having to monitor or restrict anyone
Report Magic__Daps April 3, 2019 9:52 AM BST
I would guess the only way they can be stopped from these new games is to have conditions in their licenses that state any new games have to be approved by the GC - cannot see that ever happening though? As much as many of us may think they are morally wrong, they still don't seem to be doing anything illegally (as above post). They will probably get some bad press but the people who play them won't care about that, and many punters will just bet wherever they always have done regardless of the machines/virtual games etc.

Other point - As dealer says above WH will market the National as an outstanding offer (all the other books will do the same as well) and many will believe them, and have a punt regardless of what the price or terms are with other firms.
Report ronnie rails April 3, 2019 10:23 AM BST
just had a look at prices for the gn all the major firms bar I nrnb
guess who  I honestly believe there have given the game up.
Report Trident April 3, 2019 10:41 AM BST
Im placing a wager that FOBT wont be in any shops (if any left) by the end of 2020. Thats my prediction... We dont need them simple.
Report TheGoddess April 3, 2019 10:45 AM BST
Unfortunately, in Horse Racing, many courses need their share of FOBT profits to survive.

More tracks will follow ARC's lead in an effort to live on, others will fold.
Report leif April 3, 2019 11:10 AM BST

Apr 3, 2019 -- 4:41AM, Trident wrote:

Im placing a wager that FOBT wont be in any shops (if any left) by the end of 2020. Thats my prediction... We dont need them simple.

If the bookies don't abide by the guidelines of a 2 maximum spin they will be forced to do it through law and risk a heavy fine for not doing so. It was a bit naive of them to believe they could swap one type of machine for another at the same time ignoring the reason why restrictions were imposed in the first place. The Paddy power bod who advocated for such intervention has overseen the removal of one evil and the installation of one just as bad. How Betfred can install a 500 quid maximum bet machine the day after legislation is madness. Did he/they believe it was acceptable, completely ignoring the documented damage they cause. Sheer greed in the first place has put them in a bad place opening shop after shop on the back of casino style gambling.

Fred knows the generations coming behind us have no patience to stand and watch a 3 mile steeplechase. They want quick hits, minimal fuss, and an adrenaline rush that doesn't involve waiting. The High Street betting shop is done for unless they find a moral way to diversify their business model.

Report Magic__Daps April 3, 2019 12:03 PM BST
When have Betfred had any morals anyway. Has voided numerous bets AFTER the result was known, ripped off his own staff with sky high interest loans - although think of all the good he has done with the Tote.... Vile firm ran by a vile man imo.
Report RothmanMike April 3, 2019 2:20 PM BST
Freddie didn't know his naughty employees were doing these things.
If he had,he would have stopped it at once,and told the naughty boys off.
Report Fashion Fever April 3, 2019 2:42 PM BST
woman in betfred told me she took 2 £500 bets within an hour of this cycle game launched, roulette players desperate for a fix,

told me 85% of the shops profits in area came from roulette

the shops are doomed

your be lucky to have one shop each per town this time next year
Report howarth31 April 3, 2019 2:59 PM BST
Hopefully the Bookmakers will have to start Bookmaking again rather than being Casino's disguised as Bookmakers
Report leif April 8, 2019 11:52 AM BST

Apr 2, 2019 -- 3:17PM, leif wrote:

Swept them under the carpet I expect.The engineers will be in tomorra speeding the spin cycles up. Get those buggers filling the slots up quickly ffs. They'll be asking for more than the four machines limit next.

Instant Results on Roulette Games Now Available at Ladbrokes to Bypass FOBT Maximum Stake Restrictions

UK gamblers who play popular roulette-style games available at local brick-and-mortar betting shops are now able to get an instant result by choosing a so-called “turbo” option.

Despite the calls of anti-gambling campaigners that such an option can seriously hurt more vulnerable players, the British high-street giant Ladbrokes has even reduced the length of time it takes for the electronic ball to stop moving by half, from 14 to 7 seconds only.

...On its turn, Ladbrokes has explained that its roulette games were changed in order to meet the new requirements under the UK Government’s crackdown – a maximum betting stake of £2, as well as a minimum spin speed of 2.5 seconds.

Legislators to increase spin time?Devil

Report Capt__F April 9, 2019 11:42 PM BST
machine income holding up despite £2 max spin

these games to beat ban I hope they get fined millions£ barst00ts
Report impossible123 April 10, 2019 8:49 AM BST
Staff and punters on fobt limit: "No one's smashing the machines anymore".

That was the intention of reducing stake limit from £100 to £2; it also clearly shows the attraction was solely the "perceived" but elusive mega prize that could be won instantly. Also, less aggravation and disturbance in shops must be a good thing for all concerned.
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