UK Bookies are preparing for store closures
On the 1st April 2019 new laws came in to effect in the UK restricting the maximum stake players could make on a Fixed Odds Betting Terminal to just £2, down from a previous maximum of £100.
It is no secret that FOBT’s are massive money making machines – they generate approximately £1.7bn of high street bookmakers annual £3.2bn revenue – nearly 50%. This stake restriction was always going to have a big impact on bookmakers stores but only once the new law came into effect we can start to see the bigger picture.
Bookmakers will now try to get players online
Undoubtedly reducing the maximum stake is a good thing for players, it means that – for roulette players anyway – you cannot lose a hundred pounds every 10 seconds or so.
However this of course comes at a cost to the bookies, with Ladbrokes reportedly already earmarking 71 of its 1000 shops for closure. Not all bookies are expected to close stores with Paddy Power not expecting to close any at all.
The problem with Bookmakers is that in the FOBT’s hey-day, the law only allowed 4 FOBT machines per store, so to circumvent this they just opened new shops up on the same high street or near-by. Now that this lifeline of revenue has been cut, it does seem inevitable that stores will have to close and jobs will be lost.
The Association of British Bookmakers estimated up to 4,500 shops could close, however the toll from the big bookmakers looks like it will be more like 2,300 – still a lot of empty shops and lost jobs.
Bookmakers will now work on attracting more players to their online casinos where you can play most of the games that they have in store without the £2 maximum bet.
After the first few days of the law coming into effect, 2 bookmakers were found to be offering games that tried to manipulate the rules leading to sanctions from the gaming authorities – these games were swiftly pulled from machines.
Bookies looking to entice players into Slots
Many players have been reporting a drop in the RTP of bookies slots, making it harder to win and increasing the profit of the bookmaker, which would go some way to filling the hole that the maximum stake is going to leave, however this is unconfirmed and something that will be looked at over the coming months – we would have thought it would make more sense to increase the RTP so former roulette players would be more likely to switch to slots.
The maximum stake for bookies slots has always been £2 which remains the same, some, however, did offer ‘Enhanced’ or ‘Fortune’ Spins that cost up to £50 for a set number of super spins – these are no longer available, however creative game makers have thought about that with some slots now offering in-game Power Spins that offer greater wins or more chance to enter bonus features.
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