What Is A FOBT (Fixed Odds Betting Terminal)?

  • Updated
  • By Tracy Doyle
FOBT

Following a long period of consultation, it was announced on 17th May 2018 that the new stake limit for category B2 fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) will be reduced from £100 to £2 per spin or hand.

It's not currently known when the change in legislation will come into force, but it’s expected to be some time in 2019, and with it comes a remit to review lowering the limits for B3 gaming machines.

These changes in legislation come after critics labelled them as highly addictive and a big factor in gambling addiction. With the current maximum bet at £100 per hand or 20 seconds, theoretically, a player could bet £300 per minute or £18,000 per hour.

Once the legislation is in force, this will be reduced to £6 per minute and £360 per hour.

What are FOBTs?

Fixed odds betting terminals, aka FOBTs, are similar to electronic slot machines, they’re a type of gaming machine that allows players to play quick games such as roulette or horse racing. FOBTs are usually found in betting shops, casinos and at racetracks with pool betting, they offer players the chance to place bets on games and events that have fixed odds. 

The types of games available on FOBTs include traditional casino games such as roulette and blackjack as well as virtual racing games and video slots.

The origin of FOBTs

While fruit machines have been a permanent fixture in pubs, bars and cafes for decades in the UK, FOBTs didn’t begin appearing in high street bookmakers until 1999. FOBTs offered something different to the standard fruit machine, players could now play traditional casino games such as roulette, blackjack and video slots via an electronic terminal. 

FOBTs weren’t an instant hit with players, due to the high margins bookies were charging and the limited games available. It was the changes in 2001 to the way gambling was taxed that allowed bookmakers to reduce their cut and install more exciting games that attracted players and increased the popularity of FOBTs. 

It was estimated that by April 2005 there were 20,000 FOBTs installed in the UK, increasing to 30,000 between 2005 to 2007 before the Gambling Act became law and restricted the installation of FOBTs.