UK Culture Secretary Maria Miller seems likely to say that the £100 per spin limit will remain on fixed odds terminals in betting shops.
Fixed odds terminal is another name for the type of machine you find in a high street betting shop and they generally offer casino-style games such as blackjack and roulette but of course they are also slot machines of that’s what you’d prefer to play. You can also gamble on the outcomes of simulations of horse racing, greyhound racing and the like.
Fixed odds terminals have been very successful for the betting shops which install them; they first appeared in 2001 and now, according to the Gambling Commission, there are 33,000 around the UK. That’s an impressive number because each bricks and mortar betting is only allowed four machines in total.
At the beginning, to avoid casino-style gambling, the servers for the games were hosted remotely (i.e. not on the high street) but a change in the law in 2005 (Gambling Act) meant that the games could be individually controlled but with a stakes limit of £100.
The popularity of these machines has caused some concern that £100 is too great a limit and those opposed to this type of gaming have labelled them the “crack cocaine or gambling” – a phrase that’s been applied to pretty much every type of gaming since the dawn of cocaine. There doesn’t seem to be any real evidence that these terminals are particularly addictive and that’s why Maria Miller is expected to announce that there will be no lowering of that £100 stake limit.
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has been running a public consultation recently which included a review of gaming machine stakes and prizes and although the results are not yet known sources at the DCMS have suggested that the limit will remain unchanged.
Miller faced pressure from both sides of the argument with opponents of the games wanting outright removal from the high street while a specially-convened committee of MPs actually recommended a raising of the stakes limit.