The government’s failure to clamp down on fixed-odds betting terminals must be down to stupidity or corruption and I’m not sure which of those I hope it is.
Which is better? Idiots or crooks? It would make a good parlour game.
It’s possible that I’ve spent more time among sick gamblers than you have (and if that’s not the case, we probably know each other). But if you’ve popped into a friendly high street bookmaker’s any time in the last 10 years, to bet on the FA Cup final or get some change for the parking meter, then you’ll have seen a “FOBT”.
A FOBT is a sort of glorified fruit machine with a choice of games (roulette, virtual sport, novelties) and a massive possible loss rate. The biggest difference between the old fruities and these devices, waved through by the Blair government of 2001, is that you can lose £500 a minute on a FOBT.
And people do.
How many times, in the year ending September 2016, do you think somebody lost more than £1,000 on one of these machines?
Have a think. We aren’t talking about rich people, glitzy casinos or friends having a big night out. We’re talking about people on their own, playing the slots on regular, trafficky, local streets. Poor people. Bored people. Sometimes desperate, sometimes ill. Lonely old men. Women with their babies locked in the car outside. The average national wage is about £25,000. How many times, over a year, do you think £1,000 or more was lost in a single gambling session, on a local high street, in these circumstances?
No. You’re wrong.
I mean, for fuck’s sake.
Let me confess: I myself have, often, lost more than £1,000 in a single gambling session. But when I’m losing £500 a minute, this is what I’m getting:
A high-end Las Vegas casino has sent a limousine to collect me from the airport. I’ve got a complimentary hotel room with a view of the iconic Vegas Strip. I’ve got free meals, free cocktails and a cabana (a sort of shady little house with loungers and a drinks cabinet) by a luxurious swimming pool.
This doesn’t make me clever. It makes me a mug. This is what casinos give you if they think you can afford to lose the money. But your man down the Kilburn High Road, losing at the exact same rate because he’s depressed, lost, stuck, sad and has nowhere else to be, gets the square root of sod all. He gets monotony, shame and kicked out at 10pm.
This guy (or girl) hasn’t opted in consciously. They never meant to get involved for those hours or play for those sums. They didn’t join a casino, they wandered into the bookies: outlets once considered cheery and welcome on British high streets because betting on horses is traditional, fun and, to a great extent, social. But in 2001, a black hole was unrolled in the middle of them. FOBTs are demons, succubi, squatting between the chemist and the bus stop like a pile of heroin on a cheese trolley.
UK city dwellers complain that there are now dozens of bookies in their nearest shopping street where there used to be one. But most don’t know why that is.
It’s because the government capped the number of FOBTs at four per shop. But these things are free money to their owners. Punters lose and lose and lose. And when they disappear, or kill themselves, or their child is taken into care and they start self-medicating with drugs instead, someone else steps blindly up to feed the monster. So, if you’re only allowed four per shop, open more shops!
What optimistic fool, no doubt some well-meaning MP or civil servant, thought up that “four max” rule? Did you think you were smarter than the bookies, love? We’ve all been there. That’s the fast route to eating cat food out of the tin.
But the latest government move can’t be about optimism. Everyone was expecting the betting cap (or possible loss) on these machines to be slashed. Labour and the Lib Dems went into the election actively promising it; the Tories hadn’t yet committed, but John Whittingdale warned the Association of British Bookmakers: “I can’t say I would be surprised if there are quite radical measures produced… You should brace yourself.”
And then, last week, Philip Hammond decided there would actually be no curb at all – because, according to a Whitehall source in the Daily Mail, the attendant loss of tax revenues would be “financially crippling”.
Is this bent or just stupid? The shops pay 25% duty on FOBTs (it’s much cheaper for them than horseracing). In return, we get an expensive rise in crime, theft and embezzlement, family breakdown, costly court proceedings and criminal damage as the machines are often smashed up. Meanwhile, many FOBT addicts are on welfare, so 100% of the money they put into the machines goes out of the Treasury and 25% comes back. Well done everybody.
Let’s say it’s not bent. The lobbying and hospitality for MPs is massive and rising, but I’d hate to suggest any impropriety. So that suggests a moronic misunderstanding of the true maths in play.
The argument is not being had on moral grounds. If our government said they were libertarians, planning to decriminalise all drugs and abolish income tax alongside this invitation to go skint in 10 minutes at teatime in the shop next to Tesco, we could have an interesting debate. We could weigh up that freedom against the depression and suicide, the abandoned children and associated crime, and really challenge ourselves.
But they argue this situation is financially profitable for us, as a nation? They think we make money from it? Jesus. That’s their understanding of economics? As professional gamblers say about chumps: I’d like to be locked up with them.
The above article written by Victoria Coren Mitchell, first appeared on The Guardian.…
Amusnet Gears Up for the Inaugural SBC Rio 2024 in Brazil’s Newly Regulated Market
Amusnet, a leading online slots and live casino content provider, announced its participation in the first-ever SBC exhibition in Brazil, SBC Rio 2024. This milestone event marks a significant moment for the iGaming industry in Brazil, following the country’s recent move to embrace regulation, opening new avenues for operators and content providers alike.
“The new regulatory framework in Brazil is a significant opportunity for leading online casino providers like Amusnet, and we are fully committed to becoming a key player in this vibrant market too. Our goal is to collaborate with all licensed operators in Brazil, providing them with high-quality, innovative gaming solutions tailored to meet the preferences of Brazilian players,” said Daniel de los Rios, Commercial Manager LATAM at Amusnet.
At SBC Rio 2024, Amusnet online casino selection will feature slot games, compiling the most-loved and well-performing titles, such as Hot Deco, Diamond Plus, Extra Crown, Phoenix Star, and Cocktail Rush. Among these, the spotlight will be on the exciting and innovative 20 Golden Coins, which stands out with its Bonus Coins and Reel Nudge features. Moreover, the festive reels of Dancing Dead will captivate visitors with its attractive theme and thrilling bonus features.
In the Live Casino vertical, Amusnet will bring its most popular live games, including Vegas Roulette 500x, Dynamic Roulette 120x, and Live European Roulette. Moreover, the company will unveil its upcoming games, Baccarat and Dynamic Sic Bo, designed with Asian elegance and featuring fast-paced gameplay. Both games will be hosted by entertaining live dealers 24/7, guiding players through the immersive gaming experience.
As the iGaming landscape in Brazil evolves, Amusnet is optimistic about its prospects in the market. The company anticipates a significant growth trajectory by the end of the year, driven by strategic collaborations and the introduction of tailored gaming solutions.
“SBC Rio 2024 is not just an exhibition for us; it’s a gateway to various opportunities in the Brazilian market. We are here to learn, share, and contribute to the burgeoning iGaming ecosystem in Brazil. See you there,” shared Daniel de los Rios.
Digicode Appoints Itai Zak as Executive Director for iGaming Division
Digicode, a leading provider of innovative software solutions, has appointed Itai Zak as Executive Director for the iGaming division. In this role, Itai will drive the growth and strategic direction.
With over 15 years of experience in the iGaming industry, Zak brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to Digicode. He has a proven track record of successfully leading and scaling businesses in the online gaming sector, gaining experience as the CEO of SBTech, GoWild Gaming, and Spiral Solutions.
Under Itai’s visionary leadership, GoWild Casino not only seamlessly transitioned to a state-of-the-art iGaming platform but also achieved an astounding 450% increase in profitability, driven by Itai’s strategic expansion into new markets and his ability to build and lead a formidable team of over 300 professionals.
At SBTech, Itai was instrumental in redefining the company’s sales, marketing, and business development approach, transforming SBTech into a leading provider of turnkey sports betting and iGaming solutions. His efforts have helped grow the company from 60 to over 600 employees across multiple global locations, with significant year-on-year growth in net profit.
Itai’s appointment is a testament to the company’s commitment to innovation, excellence, and strategic growth within the iGaming sector. His proven track record in navigating complex regulatory environments, coupled with his forward-thinking approach to product and market strategy, positions Digicode for exciting advancements in its iGaming offerings.
“We are thrilled to have Itai Zak join our team. His deep understanding of the iGaming landscape and leadership skills will be invaluable as we continue to innovate and expand our foothold in this dynamic industry. Also, Itai’s proven track record in navigating complex regulatory environments, coupled with his forward-thinking approach to product and market strategy, positions Digicode for exciting advancements in its iGaming offerings,” Max Maslii, President and global CEO at Digicode, said.
In his new role, Zak will develop and execute Digicode’s iGaming strategy, focusing on driving revenue and growth. He will work closely with the product development and sales teams to deliver cutting-edge solutions tailored to the unique needs of iGaming operators.
“I am excited to join Digicode and lead their iGaming division. Digicode has a proven track record of delivering innovative software solutions, and I am eager to contribute to their continued success in the iGaming market,” Itai Zak said.
Pragmatic Play Goes Live with City Center Online in Argentina
Pragmatic Play, a leading content provider to the iGaming industry, is enhancing its standing in Argentina and is now live with City Center Online.
Taking its leading Slots portfolio to the online casino, City Center Online’s players are now set to benefit from leading titles, including award-winning hits like Sugar Rush and Gates of Olympus as well as more recent releases from Pragmatic Play’s ever-expanding portfolio such as Pub Kings and Mustang Trail.
This latest agreement follows a series of partnerships that Pragmatic Play has struck across the regulated LatAm markets, combined with several regional industry awards, further cements its position as the leading supplier in Latin America.
Victor Arias, VP of Latin American Operations at ARRISE powering Pragmatic Play, said: “We are delighted to announce Pragmatic Play’s agreement with City Center Online as the brand continues its upward trajectory and supply even more LatAm operators with its acclaimed, industry-leading titles.
“With Pragmatic Play’s renowned slot library now live on the platform, we are confident they will be a hit with City Center Online’s players, and we look forward to see its content provision expanding even more in the near future.”
Samanta Zio, Online Gaming Manager at City Center Online, said: “The quality and brand recognition that is brought on by Pragmatic Play games cannot be understated and we are delighted to now offer its portfolio to our players.
“Underpinning our commitment to providing premium gaming experiences to audiences in Argentina, we are confident this partnership is a momentous win for City Center Online.”
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