Fixed Odds Betting Terminals
Fixed odds betting terminals, or FOBT machines for short, are a subject of a great deal of debate in the UK. While there’s a lot of discussion over these machines and whether or not they’re good for Britain, the issues surrounding them can seem confusing for those who haven’t been part of the conversation up until this point. For those wondering what the big deal is, here are all the facts in a nutshell.
What B2 Machines Are
B2 machines, FOBT machines, or fixed odds betting terminals are virtual roulette machines. They operate similarly to online casinos, but they are at a fixed terminal that a player has to physically come to and sit down at. Under the last Labour Party government a large number of gambling laws were relaxed, and one of those laws allowed these machines to be installed on the premises for bookmakers and gambling establishments. They allow for up to 100 pounds to be wagered every 20 seconds or so, and according to numbers gathered these machines are responsible for as much as half of the earnings of gambling establishments.
So What’s The Problem?
On the surface these machines look like a blessing for the gambling industry. There’s a reason for that; they are. However, the question that isn’t being asked is at whose expense is this blessing coming from? According to organizations who are against these machines and who want their use either curbed or outright banned these machines are placed in locations that target the poor and those who have a gambling addiction. The argument seems to be that these machines can be placed anywhere, with huge sums allowed to be wagered, and they rarely end in winners. This is particularly poignant because roulette is a game that has always favored the house over the player.
On the one hand there is nothing forcing individuals to play these terminals. Individuals who don’t want to play can walk on by past these parlors without losing anything. On the other hand, though it has been shown that these terminals make their money from preying on those who most don’t need to use them. Much like cigarette advertisement in the United States there’s nothing that says individuals must play; the owners of these machines are carefully targeting these groups of people, though. More than targeting those who are vulnerable though, the argument goes further to suggest that these machines attract criminal elements to these locations. So while the machines themselves are legitimate businesses, they seem to be attracting less-than-savory aspects to them.
The issue then is what to do about these machines? On the one hand the right to have them as a legitimate form of gambling is protected in the law. However, there have been rumblings that are asking for the right to control their use by the local government as a means to curb these less-than-desirable aspects that come with these machines.
What Are Some Of The Suggestions?
There have been a number of propositions put forth about what to do regarding these machines. Some individuals have suggested mandatory breaks for players so that they have to step away from the terminal before continuing to play. Some users might just move to the next terminal, but others will take a deep breath and decide whether or not they really need to keep playing or not. Other suggestions include cutting down the amount that someone can bet, and the amount of time it takes to lose huge sums of money.
Other options include giving local governments jurisdiction over these machines. This would allow cities and towns to decide whether or not these machines will be allowed in an establishment, how many machines one might have, and whether or not businesses next to one another will be allowed to have these machines as well. If there is an issue at the local level these policies will allow those in power to make changes to keep criminal operations out of a legitimate business opportunity and to make sure these machines don’t contribute to turning areas into gambling slums. At the same time though these laws will help support those businesses who are simply using these machines to make a legitimate profit without taking that profit out of the pockets of those who shouldn’t be gambling.
Will these solutions be put into practice? Will they be ignored or buried by the gambling industry? We’ll have to wait and see what develops from this situation as a whole.