Jeremy Wright blasts bookmakers for bypassing FOBT rules

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright has hit back at bookmakers who have supposedly undermined the restraints imposed on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), describing the actions as “disgraceful” in a recent Parliamentary session.

The new restrictions on the terminals came into play on 1 April. Earlier in the month, however, The Guardian accused Paddy Power and Betfred of trying to circumvent the government’s enforced FOBTs £2 reduction, launching new ‘roulette-style’ games ‘Pick-n-36’ and ‘Virtual Cycling’.

One of the new games, however, were reported to have featured a £100 max-bet while the other gave players the chance to place up to £500 per stake. Following a swift warning from the UK Gambling Commission, the games were withdrawn from shops.

The UKGC stated that it is currently investigating the matter and that both bookmakers could ‘still face regulatory action’, while also looking into ‘key senior staff at bookmakers who are responsible for bringing those products to market’. In its statement, the Commission had warned a third bookmaker (reported to be William Hill), to terminate its launch of an upcoming retail product.

Wright was addressing a statement made by Shadow Minister Carolyn Harris who asked about the promises that bookmakers could make to ensure that there was no “further exploitation”.

The culture secretary responded: “The actions of those who tried to find a way around the procedures banning the things that we across this House have decided should be banned were disgraceful.

“What happened thereafter, as she knows, is that the regulator took immediate action and those particular products were withdrawn.

“I hope that that lesson will be learned by all those across the industry who are tempted to try it again.”

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