It has been one week since the government’s crackdown on fixed odds betting terminals, whereby the new maximum stake of £2 was implemented and already we have seen bookmakers try to get around the new ruling. First off with Paddy Power and Betfred introducing and subsequently pulling controversial new games from the machines, which were seen as circumventing the new law.
Well this week sees the turn of Ladbrokes and the chancing of their arm, by introducing a new turbo facility for the roulette games that appear and feature on the FOBTs in their shop estate.
In a move which has surely been done to increase the turnover generated by players of FOBTs playing roulette on the terminals, Ladbrokes have introduced a ‘Turbo’ button, to the games of roulette. The turbo function thus allows players to receive the results of the spin of the wheel in half the time, without having to experience the full simulated wait of the ball traversing around the wheel, before it drops and sits in the number.
Already the High Street bookmaker is facing considerable criticism, not only from campaigners who have successfully campaigned for stricter regulation on the terminals, but also from the UK national press. The introduction of the ‘turbo’ button to the game of roulette subsequently reduces the time of a spin and bet on roulette in half – From fourteen seconds to 7 seconds.
The change to roulette and the introduction of the ‘turbo’ facility was introduced by Ladbrokes to their FOBT machines in their shop estate last week, with a whistleblower telling BBC Radio 5 Live that it is “a ploy to get people betting more quickly”.
Speaking about the action of Ladbrokes and bookmakers that operate and feature FOBTs, Carolyn Harris MP, chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on FOBTs told Radio 5 Live: “They never fail to amaze me. They’re just evil. They are prepared to go to any lengths to make money off the back of the vulnerable.”
Meanwhile, Matt Zarb-Cousin of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling said of the move by Ladbrokes: “A low maximum stake will reduce the harm caused by machines in betting shops. But the bookmakers attempting to find workarounds exemplifies why gambling products should be approved before they’re made available.”
Seemingly it looks like Ladbrokes will try to spin their way out of this latest controversy surrounding the betting terminals, with a spokesperson for the bookies telling the Daily Mail newspaper: “Our roulette games were changed to meet the new requirements – a maximum stake of £2 and a minimum spin speed of 2.5 seconds. All of our games were changed and compliant from April 1.”