CARE: Christian Action, Research and Education

For what you believe
Open menu Close menu
Man shirt betting shop losing 8
Gambling

Bookmakers in trouble over new high stakes games

3 April 2019

Two of the UK’s largest bookmakers have been forced to drop new, high stakes, roulette-style games after an investigation by the Gambling Commission.

Paddy Power and Betfred have been accused of trying to cheat new rules on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs). The industry regulator is continuing its investigation.

On Monday, the maximum stake on FOBTs was slashed from £100 to just £2 in a major victory for campaigners. Previously, punters could lose £100 every 20 seconds and in 2018, gamblers lost £1.7bn to these machines. At the time, the regulator gave a stern warning to bookmakers about attempting to get round the rules.

New games offer high maximum stakes

But on the same day as the new £2 limit came into force, Betfred introduced a game called ‘Virtual Cycle’ where customers could bet up to £500 by obtaining a piece of paper from over-the-counter. The game involved two cyclists racing on a velodrome track with the numbers 1-36, mirroring those on a roulette wheel. As in roulette, bets could then be placed on odd or even numbers, colours, rows and columns. When the second cyclist caught up with the one in front, the number they were on was the winning number.

Paddy Power, another of the UK’s largest bookies, also introduced a new roulette-style game called ‘Pick n 36’, with a maximum stake of £100 – the same as the old FOBT stake.

Yesterday, the Gambling Commission issued a statement saying: “Products recently launched in high street bookmakers Paddy Power, Betfair and Betfred have been pulled following a warning from the gambling commission and the operators could still now face regulatory action as the commission continues to investigate.”

‘FOBTs by the back door’

While all these new games technically comply with new FOBT restrictions, the bookies have come in for fierce criticism.

Sports minister Mims Davies said: “We cut FOBT stakes to £2 to protect vulnerable people from gambling-related harm and operators should respect both the letter and spirit of that change. We are watching closely to see how the industry reacts to this measure and will not hesitate to act if we see evidence of harm.”

Labour’s Deputy Leader, Tom Watson said: “These new games seem like FOBTs by the back door and look like a pretty disgraceful example of bad faith by the bookmakers involved.”

Meanwhile, former sports minister Tracey Crouch, who resigned over a proposed delay to the FOBT stake cut said: “Any attempt to circumnavigate measures that reduce harm would be morally irresponsible.”

Find out more

Read our press release on the new £2 limit on highly addictive FOBTs

Follow all the latest news on our ongoing work to protect problem gamblers

Gamb3

Gambling

While for some, gambling is just harmless fun, for a significant minority it causes genuine devastation. Our vision is to see laws passed that will help protect vulnerable problem gamblers.

Find out more about the cause

Sign up for Impact Direct

We want to show a better story for our culture and society, and we want to help you be part of shaping that in structures that we are given as citizens in the UK.

Our weekly email, Impact Direct, is about helping you stay informed, up-to-date, and equipped to engage in culture and society.

Sign up now

Recent news

Stormont 1024x768 W Hsxq Po 1v

Northern Ireland Assembly rejects abortion to birth for all non-fatal disabilities

The Northern Ireland Assembly this evening voted in favour of a DUP motion rejecting the imposition of abortion legislation which extends to abortion up to birth for all non-fatal disabilities, including Down’s syndrome.

Keep reading
Shutterstock 245930107 0 0

Pray for MLAs ahead of debate on abortion motion at the Assembly tonight

This evening, members of the Northern Ireland Assembly (MLAs) will debate a motion rejecting abortion to birth for all non-fatal disabilities. The motion reads as follows:

Keep reading
Gambling 0 0

How CARE helped to address gambling related harms

One of the issues CARE has campaigned on is the issue of gambling related harm. Across the nation, hundreds of thousands of people gamble on a regular basis and for some, it becomes an addiction. The result is financial loss, relationship and family breakdown and in extreme cases, suicide as well.

Keep reading