UK Betting Sector to See Pre-commitment — of a Sort

UK Betting Sector to See Pre-commitment — of a Sort

As recently reported in Casino Daily News, betting in the UK is often subject to a great deal of controversy.

With less Government regulation than in, say, Norway or the other Scandinavian countries, it is yet a hugely well-supported sector, with sports betting being nothing short of a national institution.

Nonetheless the anti-gaming lobby is also a powerful voice in UK society, as seen with the FOBT debacle reported on.

Now it seems the betting sector is taking note, facilitating the introduction of what is in effect a type of Pre-commitment.

Following an announcement by the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB), the regulatory body in the industry in the UK, high street bookmakers are to implement a £250 limit, beyond which an alarm will sound for both player and staff, and a 30 second break will be taken on the machine in question.

Naturally it’s not just money which you can get through when gaming, but also time. In fact you can at least recoup the former but not the latter, and so perhaps for this reason the same thing happens when players have been playing for 30 minutes.

Now, it has to be stressed that these measures do not prevent a gamer from continuing to play. They just serve as a gentle warning, which may be enough to bring somebody who’s not wholly in the moment back to their senses, and will be installed in some 33,000 machines across the UK. Moreover, betting shop staff will also receive further training in what to look for and what to do in the case of problem gamers.

Furthermore, gamers will be able to set their own levels of pre-commitment at a level lower (obviously) than the default £250/30 minute limits providing even more protection.

It will be interesting to see how this pans out. Pre-commitment is effectively mandatory in Norway, despite the ABB’s claims of a world first, but that is at a national legislative level rather than a ‘code’.

Also, whilst betting shop chains may well enforce the move on slots and FOBTs, this does not necessarily mean that there will be a way of carrying that over to the other locations where machines are found; the ‘fruit machine’ has been a staple of the British pub scene for decades of course.

At the same time it’s nice to see the industry taking the initiative and responsibility for the fact that in a small number of cases people can unfortunately get into trouble, and it may point the way to further gaming reform, as well as being a riposte to the anti-gaming crowd.