Following the stake reduction from £100 to £2 on FOBT’s, William has announced it is closing 700 shops with job losses of up to 4500, other betting shop chains have also announced there will be widespread closures. At GS Gaming we are very unsympathetic towards the bookies as it has long been felt large numbers of shops were springing up to take advantage of the 4 machines per shop allowance, some high streets still have 3 or 4 betting shops within 5 to 10 yards of each other. Maybe now, it can be argued, betting shop numbers are coming down to a realistic level.
It is without question FOBT’s have had a huge detrimental effect on our industry, both in the single sites and in our Adult Gaming Centres. The stake reduction was implemented on the 1stApril so it is still early days but eventually we are looking to see an upturn in machine income as customers leave the betting shops.
We are also looking for the government to reintroduce the triennial revenue on stakes and prizes, in fact it is now 10 years since the stakes and prizes were increased to the current level of £1 stake and £100 jackpot. The ongoing debate on FOBT’s by the government has pushed the needs of the low stakes gambling industry way down the pecking order. A stake and prizes increase to £1.50 and £150 jackpot would be most welcome.