Gamblers To Set Own Limits on Gaming Machines
In a global first, people playing on high-stakes betting terminals in England and Wales will be able to set their own time and money limits.
Until now, gamblers have been able to bet £100 ($170) every 20 seconds on gaming machines with fixed odds. With the introduction of a new code designed by the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB), these betting terminals will have mandatory alerts when a player has spent £250 or 30 minutes on the machine.
The new technology, called the Code for Responsible Gambling and Player Protection, will be installed in more than 30,000 gambling machines across England and Wales, but it will take around six months for all machines to have the code installed.
As well as alerting the customer when the time or monetary limit has been reached, and enforcing a 30-second break from gameplay, staff in betting establishments will also be alerted. On top of this, staff will also be trained – with regular refresher courses – in recognising “problem gambling” and be able to offer advice and support.
“The code will help give players more control and encourage responsible gambling,” said ABB Chief Executive Dirk Vennix. He explained that growing concerns about gambling addiction led to the first measures like this in the world “because one problem gambler is one too many”. “[The gambling industry] is united in a fierce commitment to helping vulnerable people,” he added. “We believe the measures strike the right balance between protecting customers without stopping the enjoyment of the eight million people who play on gaming machines without any problems.”
The new measures are being welcomed up and down the country, with the general consensus being that although more can be done in helping gambling addicts, the new technology is a great first step. Mark Griffiths, a professor from the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham University, said he was “delighted” the ABB was taking such steps in promoting responsible gambling.
ABB have asked The Responsible Gambling Trust (RGT) to review the new code, and see how if affects consumer behaviour. RGT Chief Executive Marc Etches said the evaluation with assess both the short and long term impacts of this and will help towards the RGT’s own research into betting terminals.
GamCare is an advice service for anyone suffering through a gambling problem, and Chief Executive Dirk Hansen says that he welcomes the introduction of a new code of practice from the ABB. He explained that the measures not only offer better protection for the player and encourage responsible gambling, but also raises awareness for problem gamblers that help is available to them. “These new measures will not only educate players to the risk associated with gambling,” he said, “but also empower individuals to get support when they need it.”
The code of practice will come into effect today, and although only 1% of the UK’s gamblers are recognised as having an addiction to high-stakes gaming machines, that 1% now have more of a chance to work through their addiction.