(Reuters) - If the UK government makes good on promises to cut stakes on fixed odds slot machines, consumers and gambling shops will flip to sports betting terminals instead, the head of the world’s largest gambling software maker said on Thursday.
The Conservative administration is currently deciding on a new lower top limit per spin for fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) after a review showed that the current 100 pound ($139) limit fuels addiction and drives casual gamblers more easily into debt.
Gambling companies William Hill and Ladbrokes have warned of job losses and shop closures if the stake is cut to as low as 2 pounds on the touch-screen machines that allow players to bet on roulette, poker and Black Jack.
Mor Weizer, chief executive of London-based Playtech, which makes the software for the machines, said chains would likely use a loophole that puts no limit on the number of sports betting machines in a shop to push the same business elsewhere.
“I believe that if FOBTs would be impacted, self-service betting terminals (SSBTs), a similar machine for sporting results, would enjoy additional benefits,” he told Reuters in an interview.
“There is no restriction on the number of machines you can have at a shop.”
There are almost 8,800 betting shops in the UK and each is allowed a maximum of four FOBTs. There is no cap on the number of sports machines, which allow players to bet on the results of soccer games or horse races.
Reporting by Rahul B in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham