wo products recently launched in high street bookmakers Paddy Power Betfair and Betfred have been pulled following a warning from the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) and the operators could still now face regulatory action as the Commission continues to investigate. A third bookmaker who was poised to launch a new product, which has been reported in the media, has also been warned.
Last Monday saw the introduction of reduced maximum stakes on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTS) from £100 (USD 131) to £2 (USD 2.63) and the Commission is concerned that the new products undermine the changes made, as it stated yesterday in an official release. The Commission may also investigate key senior staff at bookmakers who are responsible for bringing those products to market.
In particular, Paddy Power Betfair and Betfred had to remove two new games from shops, according to The Telegraph. Two roulette-style games, called Pick ‘n’ 36 and Virtual Cycling, run in Paddy Power and Betfred shops respectively, were launched precisely on Monday, and were withdrawn after a UKGC warning. William Hill, which was reportedly poised to launch a new game, has also been “warned”, the regulator said.
Paddy Power said a “short trial” of its game concluded yesterday. "The trial was ceased within 24 hours and this product will not be launched across our estate," a spokesman said. Betfred said its product was “not machine games but over the counter bets.”
The gambling industry has warned FOBT restrictions could see 21,000 jobs lost with 4,500 stores shutting after becoming unprofitable.
Yesterday’s announcement follows a letter from the Commission’s Chief Executive Neil McArthur to bookmakers warning the industry against any attempts to circumvent the FOBT stake cut and remind them of their responsibilities to ensure their consumers are protected.
Richard Watson, Executive Director for Enforcement, said: “We have been absolutely clear with operators about our expectations to act responsibly following the stake cut implementation this week. We have told operators to take down new products which undermine the changes, and we will investigate any other products that are not within the spirit and intention of the new rules.’’