So, the maximum stake for fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) (the ones you find in betting shops) could be dropping to as low as £2, as part of the latest government review. As it stands, customers can place bets of up to £100 every 20 seconds – which I think we can all agree is complete insanity.
Now, as with most Government reviews, they are not very thrilling to read. So, for those who are interested, I’ve briefly summed up the key points the review is looking to tackle:
Broadcasters, advertisers, industry and support groups will draw up an advertising campaign to promote responsible gambling, with an annual budget of up to £7m.
New advertising guidelines will be drafted to protect problem gamblers, children and young people.
Gambling companies are being told to step up funding for research, education and addiction treatment. If they don't, operators may face a levy.
Access by under-18s to gambling content and channels on social media will be restricted.
Now, many of our members could be forgiven for questioning why this is big news for them. After all, gambling machines in betting shops are something that no matched bettor would go anywhere near!
Well, it is a well-known fact that the Reload/Welcome offers the bookies provide online are no longer as lucrative as they were 4-5 years ago. That is because at the time, the most ‘lucrative’ market was the online one for bookmakers. As a result, there were more online offers that dangled the carrot closer to the consumer. Many bookmakers state that the rise of matched betting as the reason for the reduction in good online offers. However, we completely disagree. The effect matched betting has on a big bookmaker’s bottom line is next to non-existent. What steers the bookie’s focus is a lot more simplistic. It is simply down to where they create the most cost-effective “cash cows.”
In recent years, the staggering profitability of FOBT’s has led many bookies to refocus on not only how they get these potentially lucrative customers into their shops but how they keep them there. This, we believe, has led to a shift in focus from Online to FOBTs which has, in turn, led to matched bettors not being able to stroll into a £2k profit every month.
Whilst there is no absolute concrete proof of the relationship between the success of the FOBTs and the slight reduction in lucrative reload offers – we don’t think it is a stretch to assume this is the case.
This change will probably have a huge impact on the amount of money bookmakers are able to make from FOBT’s. This, will almost certainly force a shift in focus for the bookies from the FOBT’s back to online. Online activity will need to be stimulated, and with the government also coming down hard on advertising, bookmakers may be forced to improve the appeal their Reload offers have to existing members. Which, in turn, will have a positive impact on the matched bettors bottom line.
All in all this is a win. A win for those affected by gambling addiction and to matched bettors, who may reap the rewards from an industry looking for a way to bolster profits.