New Research Shows Scots Spent £3.7 Billion on FOBTs in 2016

Scottish gambling customers wagered £3.7 billion on fixed-odds betting terminals in 2015-16, newly released research shows. There were 4,000 B2 gaming machines in betting shops around Scotland during the reviewed period.

According to the new report, the amount of £170 million was lost by Scots. For several years now, FOBTs have been the subject of heavy criticism from influential lawmakers and anti-gambling campaigners, mainly due to the fact that the controversial machines allow players to bet up to £100 every 20 seconds.

Research firm Landman Economics found that an approximate of £1.2 billion was lost by Scottish players in the period between 2008-9 and 2015-16. It was estimated that the country had 171,695 wagerers during the reported period, with those losing an average of £6,750 each. Of all players, 37,600 were identified as problem FOBTs gamblers, those losing an average of £12,300 each.

It can be seen further in the research that over 18,000 people lost their jobs during the reviewed eight-year period.

The Scotland figures came at a time when it was revealed that British wagerers lost more than £11 billion in the period between 2008-09 and 2015-16.

The UK Government conducted review of the country’s FOBTs industry, the results of which are expected to be made public after the upcoming June 8 snap election. Anti-gambling lobbyists have long been urging MPs to introduce new regulations on the provision of B2 gaming machine services.

Generally speaking, the highly demonized betting terminals allow punters to bet on the outcome of popular casino games such as blackjack and roulette. And as mentioned above, bettors can stake up to £100 every 20 seconds, which, according to many, makes the FOBTs highly addictive and therefore dangerous to players’ welfare.

Commenting on the latest findings, Campaign for Fairer Gambling spokesperson Matt Zarb-Cousin said that the figures reported show that the FOBTs experiment allowing casino games in betting shops across Britain has clearly proved unsuccessful. Campaign for Fairer Gambling has been one of the most vocal critics of the gambling machines and is gearing up to renew its lobbying blitz for the reduction of the maximum stake allowed to just £2 per spin immediately after the election.

The figures reported by Landman Economics were dismissed by ABB, the bookmakers’ associations, as “pure fantasy”. A spokesperson for the association told local media that more than 5,000 people are currently employed in betting shops around Scotland and that those same betting shops annually contribute more than £110 million in taxes. The spokesperson further added that stringent measures against FOBTs would have adverse economic effects but would not reduce problem gambling rates among Scots.

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