- In 2005 the Gambling Act separated the different types of gambling into categories
- Gambling categories divide each section of British gambling into certain groups
- Even 2p pusher games and toy crane grabbers are considered gambling and fall under category D
Fixed odds betting terminals (FOBT’s) have been in the UK since early 1999, and although they started out in small numbers, as a result of the governments scrapping of tax on bets in 2001, instead opting to tax gross profits, the numbers began to swell, reaching 34,884 in 2017.
Fixed odds betting terminals are electronic gaming machines hosting a variety of games such as roulette and slots. In the early part of the 2000’s roulette was the popular choice on the betting terminals, this popularity spawned multiple versions of bonus roulette such as the latest Mike Tyson Roulette game, with lower odds than regular bookies roulette, but added excitement. Since then slots have increasingly filled the betting terminals with content, with a little over 70 different types of slot machine on each betting terminal; that’s more than 250 per shop!
In 2005 the Gambling Act separated the different types of gambling into categories, these gambling categories were represented by small black stickers on all types of British gambling machines (including fruit machines and even coin pushers!). The FOBT’s were classed as B2, with jackpots limited to £500 and stakes limited to £100 per spin, although this is currently under review.
- B1 – Maximum stakes of £5 with jackpots capped at £10,00. Category B1 machines are typically found in casino. B1 machines can be linked providing they are in the same premises, with jackpots of no more than £20,000.
- B2 – These are the bookies FOBT machines with stakes up to a maximum of £100, and jackpots no more than £500.
- B3 – These are the more traditional FOBT slot machines with stakes at no more than £2, and jackpots capped at £500. When you play on Fortune Spins or Mega Spins you will be notified that you are entering a B2 game as mentioned above.
- B4 – Typically found in social clubs and on cross-channel ferries, with stakes of £2 and jackpots of £400.
- C – Category C are typical pub fruit machines with stakes up to £1 and jackpots of £100. One repeat is also permitted.
- D – There are various forms of cat. D machine, mostly related to family amusement games such as cranes and coin pushers.
Fixed Odds Betting Controversy
The gambling categories have been a way to divide the types of gambling from the softer, to some of the more 'hard' betting type of games. Controversy has always surrounded the FOBT’s, mainly caused by the speed and ease at which you can play. Almost every High Street in the UK has at least one betting shop where you can walk in and bet thousands of pounds within a matter of minutes (£300 per minute). This type of gambling not only causes social problems, it also causes an increase in problem gambling.
It is now possible to self-exclude yourself from gambling premises in an entire region for up to 5 years, and covers all betting shops in a wide area. For more details on problems gambling and self-exclusions have a look at Gamcare.org.uk
Fixed Odds Betting Terminal Games
As the processing power and complexity of the betting terminal increases, so too does the variety of games on offer. Players are no longer limited to a single type of roulette game, or one or two basic slot machines, now there are hundreds of games to cover almost every type of betting, all electronically. SG Gaming has recently released their new Equinox range of terminals, as has Inspired Gaming.
Many bonus roulette games have evolved on the FOBT’s that wouldn’t be possible in a real casino. Betting terminal games such as Key Bet Roulette remains one of the most popular, but others too have stepped up to the plate to offer a host of bonus features which often combine roulette with slots.
The slot machines get more and more advanced as the processing power of the betting terminals increases, so complex slots with huge reels such as Ninja Monkey can run smoothly and show more advanced and complex animations. Players are not only confined to these two types of gambling either; the FOBT’s also have video poker, virtual horse and dog racing and several £100 jackpot fruit machines.
So what does the future for the FOBT’s and gambling categories hold? Over the years those who have paid attention will have noticed that the percentages (RTP’s) have been decreasing. Lower percentages increase the overall profit for the bookmakers and decreases the amount of wins and features for the player. Lower RTP’s combined with high stakes and low jackpots has helped create a surge in online gambling, with 33% of all UK gambling now taking place online. So although FOBT's will likely be around for many more years in some form, their peak of popularity has since past.