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NEWS 7 June 2018

Harris Interactive: A study on FOBTs

By Caroline Watson

On the morning of the 17 May, the news broke that the UK Government will reduce the maximum stake a player can place on a Fixed Odds Betting Terminal from £100 to £2.

This could have serious implications for the industry, with some companies facing the prospect of severely diminished profits, and others potentially benefiting as FOBT users play elsewhere.

The same day, Harris Interactive launched a nationally representative Harris 24 poll surveying 1,993 members of the public in eight hours. We asked the nation about their gambling habits, exploring their views on:

  • Reactions to the new £2 stake
  • Trust & responsibility (the gambling industry, individual companies, and the government)
  • Awareness, attitudes, and the impact on gambling behaviour

Previous survey: On 3 Nov 2017, a nationally representative Harris 24 surveyed 2,000 members of UK public exploring the same areas (the news broke of the Government’s 12 week consultation period on the 31 October)

Survey findings:

  • Overwhelming public support for reducing the limit from £100 to £2. 9 in 10 agree that the limit should be reduced to £2.
  • We see greater support for the £2 limit. This time 55% believe the limit should be £2 when presented with a number of different price points. This was 36% last time.

  • Positively, the public believe that this will limit how much people gamble and that it will reduce the issue of ‘Problem Gambling’. As well as having a positive impact on society. All positive signs for an industry which often suffers from negative connotations.

  • However, we do not see universal agreement that this will positively impact the lives of problem gamblers. Similar amounts agree and disagree that this will stop people getting into debt.

  • Furthermore, there is a belief that gambling companies will simply create new ways of gambling which are just as bad as FOBTs.58% agreewith this and just 7% disagree.

  • Whilst this news is welcomed as a way to reduce ‘Problem Gambling’, the public do not see this problem as going away. The industry needs to do more to demonstrate to the public that they care about the lives of their customers. 33% agree that this will have a positive impact on the gambling industry. However nearly the same amount (29%) disagree.

  • Especially in the light that the public are particularly damning of gambling companies. 67% agree that gambling companies had this coming to them, whilst just 7% disagree. And 78% agree that they make enough money anyway.

  • This reduction in stake will also impact FOBT behaviour. We see an increase in FOBT players saying that they now will play more, 18% to 30%. And that they will also play different games or place more sports bets. With the public view that this will not reduce the problem of gambling debt, we see evidence within FOBT players that their spend will go elsewhere.

  • This is also evidenceamong lapsed FOBT players where we see an increase of 10%points in who will definitely/might start playing again.

  • Overall, this news is welcomed by the public and will go some way to reducing some of the negative perceptions the industry faces. However, there is still scepticism of how much this will truly change the industry which clearly is seen generally in a negative light.
RELATED TAGS: Land-Based | Legal & Regulatory | Industry
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