Paddy Power & Betfred forced to remove new games from retail shops
April 3, 2019
Bookmakers Paddy Power and Betfred have been told by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) to remove their new retail games which were introduced after stake restrictions on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBT) came into effect on Monday.
New regulations meant that all betting retail shops would have to reduce the maximum stakes on FOBT from £100 to £2 from 1st April 2019. It’s a move that was introduced as a step to protecting vulnerable people from excessive gambling but has affected the bookmakers with many retail shops preparing to close due to loss in revenue. Ladbrokes has already reportedly chosen to close 71 of 1,000 sites due to an estimated loss of £50,000 per shop.
On the same day the new regulations came into effect, The Guardian accused some betting retailers of releasing new high-stakes games, some with maximum stakes of £500. The bookmakers claim that no bets over £2 are accepted directly on the games and that bets in excess of this amount must be placed over the counter where staff can monitor customers’ betting activity more actively.
However, the UKGC has taken immediate action and told both Paddy Power and Betfred to remove these new games from their shops with a third bookmaker, who is thought to be William Hill, warned not to release a planned retail game.
UKGC Executive Director for Enforcement, Richard Watson, said:
“We have been absolutely clear with operators about our expectations to act responsibly following the stake cut implementation this week. We have told operators to take down new products which undermine the changes, and we will investigate any other products that are not within the spirit and intention of the new rules.’’
Following the response from the UKGC, a spokesperson for Betfred said:
“This week betting shops have gone through a seismic change and many will no longer be viable given the new restrictions on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals.
“In an attempt to grow our over-the-counter business we’ve therefore introduced a number of special offers on a wide range of sports, and have also revamped our virtual channel with new virtual horseracing and a new virtual cycling game.
“Bets for all these products need to be filled out on a betting slip and handed over at the counter, where our staff can interact with the customers as they do so. These are not machine games but over-the-counter bets.”
“We removed the virtual cycling product and all associated marketing early this morning after discussions with the Gambling Commission.”
A spokesperson for Paddy Power also responded with:
“We offer our retail customers a range of number-based betting products and this (Referring to Pick ‘n’ 36) game was introduced as part of a short trial in a selection of shops. This trial concluded earlier today and we’ll now assess customer response and feedback.”