UK Bookies are making plans to close some betting shops down and try to move people to online accounts in readiness for the changes to the maximum bet size on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) that start today. One arm bandit’s as they used to be called have rightly taken a lot of flak of late due to their terrible addictiveness and the number of problem gamblers they have created.
The bookmakers had warned all along that the massive drop in their profitability due to the stakes being lowered from £100 to £2 would cause job redundancies in the industry.
Jeremy Wright, the culture secretary said it was a “significant step forward in protecting vulnerable people”.
I’ve read that Ladbrokes is in the process of highlighting the shops it is thinking of closing. It could be as many as 70 of its one thousand betting offices and other High St bookies are also looking closely at their profitability after the changes start to take effect.
To be honest though lots of bookies have 2 or even 3 offices within a 2-minute walk of each other as a way of getting more FOBT’s in each town (you can only have 4 per shop) so closing a few shops isn’t going to affect punters who like to back horses etc.
Personally, I think the Association of British Bookmakers were just trying to stop the government from reducing the stakes so low when it said they’d have to close as many as 4,500 betting shops. I doubt for a minute the figure will be anywhere near that many.
I live in Redditch and not so far away in Birmingham city centre they have been trialling the new lower stakes for a while. My guess is that sadly problem gamblers will just sit longer at them, but they’ll still lose all their money and more.
I think punters will adjust and get used to the new lower stakes and hopefully it will help.
I trade on Betfair all the time and I’ve felt for a long time that betting with a traditional bookmaker is just a terrible long-term strategy. The prices they offer are appalling in comparison to Betfair on the exchange and if you show that you only use them when they are offering decent prices, they will restrict your account in a heartbeat.
Ten years from now I don’t believe that traditional bookmakers will survive away from the racecourse.
I doubt the loss of business will be as bad as the bookies are trying to make out and it might make them offer customers a bit more in other areas as they’d just made them complacent over recent years.
These machines have provided bookies with billions in revenue and profits in recent years and I’m sure they’ll come up with some other clever way of parting mugs from their money.
My advice is open a Betfair account so you at least get decent odds on your selections and don’t go in High Street bookies. They don’t deserve your custom.