The UK government has criticised bookmakers over their recent moves in the wake of the changes to regulations governing Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs).
Speaking in a session of the UK Parliament, Jeremy Wright, the Culture Secretary, condemned as ‘disgraceful ‘attempts by some gambling operators to undermine the regulations.
The FOBT rules became effective on April 1 and have reduced the maximum stake on the machines from £100 to £2. But UK newspaper The Guardian have reported that bookmakers Paddy Power and Betfred have attempted to get around the stake reduction with the launch of two new games. One of the games reportedly included a £100 maximum bet, while the other gave players the opportunity to stake sums of £500. Following the report, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) issued a warning to the bookmakers involved and both games have been withdrawn from betting shops.
But that may not be the end of the matter, as the UKGC has said that it is investigating the issue, and it has been reported that the bookmakers involved could yet face regulatory action, and in particular, the UKGC is looking closely at the senior managers who were involved in the decision to introduce the offending machines. The UKGC has also moved against a third bookmaker, which is believed to be William Hill, ordering it to cancel its launch of a new betting shop product.
In reply to a statement from Labour’s Carolyn Harris, Wright reported on the action taken by the UKGC and said that he hoped that the industry had learned its lesson:
“The actions of those who tried to find a way around the procedures banning the things that we across this House have decided should be banned were disgraceful.”