The introduction of double zero roulette has made a “small but definite improvement to gaming machine income” at Chisholm Bookmakers.
Three weeks ago, the game was introduced on a trial basis by Howard Chisholm, the bookmaker’s managing director, to offset the huge loss of income as a result of the government reducing max stakes on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) to just £2.
Speaking at last week’s Bookmakers Trade Fair in Solihull, Chisholm (pictured at Betting on Sports 2019) said that his roulette turnover had subsequently gone down 15%, but gross win was up by 70%.
“When roulette was a B2 game with £100 per spin maximum, the game probably accounted for over half of all gaming machine income,” he explained. “This was due to the size of stakes that could be played, the game was offered in a single zero format.
“Yet, since the government ruling came in on 1 April, B2 games have become unviable and so roulette is now offered as a category B3 game. Serious roulette players have, therefore, left the betting shop for online or land based casinos where stakes are higher.
“Consequently, the proportion of income generated by roulette games in a betting shop has dropped substantially. It is now probably between 10 and 20% of gaming machine income.”
Chisholm admitted that the big concern for introducing double zero roulette was whether shop punters would play the game with an increased margin of 5.4%.
“Slots games available on B3 generally run at margins of between 7 and 12%,” he continued. “However the margin of single zero roulette is only 2.7%; this is small in comparison to slots. Introducing double zero roulette with a margin of 5.4% takes it closer to slots but still represents good value against slots for the customer.
“The concern that most bookmakers have is that doubling the margin on a game should, in theory, half the turnover as customers will, on average, be losing their money twice as quickly – i.e. if margin doubles and turnover halves then gross win says the same.”
Chisholm was, therefore, pleased to report that turnover had only dropped by 15%. “It appears that the leisure players that are now playing roulette in betting shops are not as price sensitive as bookmakers might think,” he concluded.
“Yet, this should be taken into context. A 70% increase in roulette income only represents an increase in gaming machine income of between 7 and 14%.
“This is compared to a more than 30% drop in gaming machine income that has occurred since the change to B2 stakes on 1 April. So, as I said at the Trade Fair, it is a small but definite improvement to gaming machine income.”