Gambling Commission to investigate FOBT labelling

The Gambling Commission have remarkably admitted that the labelling on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBT’s) “can be misunderstood” by some players.

Communications from a licensing officer also revealed that they are in consultation with both the industry and organisations that support those with gambling problems to see how labelling could be made clearer.

FOBT RTP painted

I shoddily painted over GamCare’s logo, as they’re funny about that sort of thing.

Currently on FOBT’s, there is a mathematical Return To Player (RTP) figure shown as 97.3% on roulette, which this suggests that the player has a near 100% chance of winning. However, the 97.3% is calculated as an average return from 35,000 machines, and it is highly unlikely that any single play will win at that rate.

In roulette there are 37 possible results and the maximum winning return is 35-1. Therefore if you bet on each number at a cost of £37  you would recover only £35, a return of 97.3% of your stake. However, there are now calls to display a figure which is the percentage of a single machine, rather than the average takings.

It is thought that although the FOBT’s have ‘fixed odds’ returns displayed on every game, that this figure does not take into consideration the money transferred from one game to another, or indeed one machine to another. If it did, it would make the return to the player much, much lower than the industry suggests. Although they are unlikely to admit that you are much less likely to win than what is displayed on the machine.

If this is correct, the return to the gamblers would be approximately 88%, rather than 97%. This confusion could be addressed relatively easily.

The Commission, who were set up under the 2005 Gambling Act to regulate commercial gambling, and are funded by the organisations they license, stated, “These consultations are ongoing as it is important that any changes to the labelling improves the clarity and are not simply change for changes sake.”

The 2005 Gambling Act states that gambling must be “fair and open”, therefore the fact that only now are the Gambling Commission looking into the labelling on FOBT’s begs the question, have machine players been deceived for 8 years? A change to a more realistic figure would certainly suggest so.

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9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized, Gambling, Betting, Addiction, FOBT's, Betting Shops, Business, Gambling Commission

9 responses to “Gambling Commission to investigate FOBT labelling

  1. The Gambling Commission look at better info and you slag them? The sad bit is that the obsession with FOBTs means that you have ignored the new consultation on player fund protection and remote gambling LCCP rules altogether.

    It is amazing how £500k can distort the entire debate.

  2. £500k is the amount Derek Webb and partner claim to have spent on their campaign.

    • So everyone who wants reform and change in the betting industry agrees with that campaign do they? I have to ask then, you constantly defend the industry, so what are your motives? Member of the ABB perhaps?

  3. Sam, I am a bit sick of being accused of being a paid shill. I have no financial connection to the industry or the ABB. My point re “the campaign” is that it entirely distorts the debate to be about FOBTs when the same games are available at higher stakes online or in casinos.

    The debate should be about how best to help problem gamblers not how best to oppose any new betting shop as is the latest “campaign” wheeze.

    Let’s debate how the LCCP consultation can help players not an endless FOBT bad message, especially when this month we will be getting new data on Scottish PG that is v.unlikely to support the proposition that FOBTs have increased the number of PGs.

    • Me accusing you was tongue-in-cheek as I can’t go a day without someone accusing me of being a campaigner or lobbyist. I was at a debate on Thursday about betting shops and the ‘campaign’ was mentioned 4-5 times and there wasn’t ANYONE connected with them even there. Everything I believe should change would directly help problem gamblers and no one else. I have never suggested that FOBT’s should be restricted like the ‘campaign’ does. We await the reports, but in my experience betting shops could and should take more responsibity.

  4. UK-21

    Sam,
    Would you kindly explain the concept underpinning your comments that that house edge on your common-or-garden game of roulette alters from 2.7% to around 12% when someone takes their funds to another machine? I’m somewhat puzzled by this, as even if one were to average out the payouts on all of the gaming undertaken on a group of roulette wheels, it would still be 2.7% – although it does, of course, assume all of the results, on all wheels, are random. Have I missed something somewhere?
    UK-21.

    • Certainly. My thoughts is that they should display the cash retention rate (which could be around 18%) on machines. That is what players feel in their pocket, not the “fixed odds” margin. It is extremely unlikely that anyone who plays the machines for, say, an hour will win at 97%.

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