Seven Gambling Customers Lose £10,000 in a Day on FOBTs, GambleAware Says

Seven UK gambling customers lost over £10,000 in a single day on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) over a researched 10-month period, problem gambling support charity GambleAware said in a recent filing to the Government.

UK MPs are currently conducting a traditional triennial review of the country’s gambling industry. The latest review was announced as one that would be particularly focused on the controversial gaming devices, located in betting shops across the UK.

To provide its latest findings, GambleAware analyzed 5.4 million betting sessions played over a 10-month period. Its report included instances of customers staking the maximum amount of £100 allowed. Under current gambling regulations bettors can wager said amount every 20 seconds.

The charity organization found out that 100-pound bets accounted for 3% of the whole, and that customers staking the maximum amount allowable usually did so more than once per playing session.

Seven such playing sessions resulted in players losing over £10,000 in a matter of hours, GambleAware noted in its report. There was one particular customer who lost £13,778 over a playing session that lasted seven and a half hours.

FOBTs have come under fire from British MPs in recent years, responsible gambling organizations, and other involved parties and it is expected that certain measures will be taken in the way the controversial machines are regulated. Gambling opponents have called for the maximum stakes to be reduced to just £2 from £100. Such a large reduction is not likely, particularly given the fact that it will cause sharp backlash from gambling operators. And here it is important to note that gambling companies are large taxpayers, annually contributing millions of pounds to coffers. However, a reduction might indeed be anticipated once the UK Government is done with its review.

Commenting on the latest GambleAware data released, Carolyn Harris MP, one of the staunchest lobbyists for a new FOBTs regulatory regime, said that the reported losses were “obscene” and that they were likely the result from poor monitoring at betting premises. According to Ms. Harris, there should be trained specialists who can advise customers, particularly ones showing problem gambling behavior symptoms.

As the charity organization found out, loyalty card holders, unemployed bettors, and ones with clear gambling problems were among those more likely to stake £100. Yet, GambleAware said that there was no solid evidence proving that FOBTs caused gambling addiction, although there was enough evidence that the controversial machines could indeed be associated with serious harm.

There were 8,709 betting shops across the UK by September 30, 2016, according to data provided by the UK Gambling Commission. Those featured 34,684 FOBTs or B2 gaming machines, as these are officially referred to as under the country’s existing laws. The devices generated more than £1.7 billion in the period between April 2015 and March 2016, the country’s gambling regulator said in its latest data report.

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