In light of new legislation allowing adult gaming centers (AGCs) to install up to four fixed odds betting terminals, many such locations are scrambling to make the shift over to partial betting shops and reap the profits of the growing U.K. gambling industry. Big names in the AGC business were quick to adapt to the new opportunity, such as leading AGC company Praesepe’s CEO , who quickly applied to the British Amusement Catering Trade Association for licenses for four such FOBTs.
As of 2012, there were approximately 33,000 FOBTs in the United Kingdom, a number that has continued to grow without pause. The nature of such installations has led to a mixed response from gamblers and gaming industry figures alike. Casinos risk losing profits to more convenient, less regulated FOBTs, but self-interest parties aren’t the only groups questioning the availability of FOBTs on the high streets.
Groups such as the Campaign for Fairer Gambling and numerous antigambling groups hold a very low opinion of the installations, comparing them to street drugs in addictiveness and harm potential. Unlike traditional casinos, AGCs-turned-betting-shops aren’t faced with the strict regulations that have historically been used to curtail the potential harms of gambling, and no age control, a lack of careful monitoring by door staff, and unusually lax betting rules all have raised eyebrows from gambling associations and moral guardians alike.
Whatever the problems inherent to the situation, it looks likely to stay for a while. FOBTs have become big business, and unless problems become more readily apparent, it seems unlikely that Parliament will be amending the law in the near future.