Less than a year ago, legislation was brought into UK law that enforced a maximum stake limit on gaming machines inside betting shops. The industry felt this, with shop closures and a variety of different online concessions and offers being either cut back, changed or withdrawn completely on the back of the news.
The industry knew it had to tighten up and that things could get worse, and in 2020 we may be about to see that. Those who brought the staking limit into force are now turning their attention to gambling online, where there are currently no staking limits in place and players can bet as they please.
Bigger staking game players who were put off playing in a shop when the stake reduction came in have moved online and joined those already there. This means that should any kind of limit come into online gambling then it is going to affect pretty much everyone who gambles at the moment, there will be no getting away from it.
Why are Stake Limits Being Considered?
This is all due to problem gambling. While those who say that the vast majority of gamblers enjoy a flutter and can keep things under control, those opposite point out that we do have many people who struggle with their gambling.
One of the biggest problems the industry as a whole has had when trying to fight problem gambling is that they failed to do enough in the early stages. 20 years ago when regulations were relaxed, bookmakers were not putting anything in place to help problem gamblers and try to limit those who faced problems.
When you haven’t been doing anything for a big part of your time trading, any changes that come are going to feel big and come suddenly, which is exactly how these feel like, and how the shop stake reductions felt.
What Will the New Restrictions Be?
There are two ways to think here, and it would be no surprise to see either of them come into force.
The first is that the stake levels will be the same across the entire board, what you can do in a shop is what you can do online, there will be no differences between the two. This is the most likely scenario and those who pushed hard for the stake limits in shops will be pushing hard for equality here to give everyone the same playing field.
This would mean a maximum stake of £2 per spin on all types of casino games online, from slots to roulette and blackjack. Those punters who stake higher than that and moved online to be able to continue doing do are not going to be happy if the same limits follow them online. There is also the fact that generally speaking, bigger staking customers are found online rather than in shops, these people are going to have to put up with the reduction too.
The second possibility is that a restriction will come into play, but this will be higher than that what has been enforced in shops. This is to give those larger staking punters somewhere to play for bigger stakes, even if it means playing for a lower stake than they are at the moment.
This would be seen as a compromise between what we have at the minute and what is enforced on shops, and for that reason, there would be many people willing to get on board. Players are probably still not going to like it, but if the limit is £10 rather than £2 per spin, although smaller it is giving players the chance to play for slightly more.
What Parts of Online Gambling will this Affect?
There is no doubt that the biggest group will have an effect on are those in the casino industry. They would face stake limits on every single game that they offer, from their slot titles to the table and card games they have available.
This would certainly mean a drop in revenue for them, as few players would have the time to play enough additional games to stake the amount that they normally would.
However, it is not just casinos that would see an effect here, this would also cover bookmakers and bingo halls, who also have games as part of their service.
Many online bookmakers have turned into the complete gambling service now, offering sports betting, casino gaming and much more all under one roof. Their players are likely to stick with them as they use them for more than just casino gaming, but stakes may be lowered and they may stop playing casino games completely if they don’t feel the stake limits are right for them.
Then there is those who play bingo online, and the many providers that offer it. These online bingo halls come with much more than bingo now, they also offer players the chance to play slot games while they are waiting for the next round of bingo to begin.
It may not have too much of an impact on the bingo industry, as the majority of slot players on these sites are low staking players who are just passing time on while waiting for bingo to begin, but it could see a small drop for them.
This is something that will have a rippling effect throughout the entire gambling network, not only on casinos and for that reason, we may see a number of changes to the gambling industry as we know it now in the future.
Will we See any Future Changes to the Online Gambling Industry?
There is likely to be no good news coming out of these changes, should they happen in any way. If they happen and it goes to the extreme of introducing the £2 stake limit online then we will see more drastic measures taken by online gambling companies, and probably see them done quicker.
A higher staking limit will likely see changes, but not to the same extent, and we may get to enjoy our current experience for longer before these come into play.
However, regardless of how the staking limit comes in, it seems as though changes will be coming our way.
Bonuses, Offers, Freebies & Much More Could be Trimmed
This is where punters are going to get hit the hardest. When the staking limit on FOBT machines come into force in the shops, we saw a number of concessions go, even some that weren’t affected by the change at all, so don’t think your sports betting offers are safe.
We saw some bookmakers cut back on things such as best odds guaranteed on horse racing, acca offers on football, fewer free bets being handed out and all things like that. None of these were really directly affected by the stake reduction on FOBT machines, but they are ways in which bookmakers trim down their outgoings to manage costs.
Their income is going to suffer, and because of that, they need to put a little tighter control on their outgoings so they can balance the books how they want to.
We saw concessions go when the shop move came into play in 2019, you can expect to see plenty more go, or be heavily changed, in 2020 should the reduction move into online gambling.
Lower Game Investment
Casino game developers are putting together some great games at the moment, with state of the art graphics, bonus features, new ways to win and much more. These have all been designed because the industry believes that players want them and because they know that those who do play them are going to spend money playing them.
The stake limit will either stop people from playing them or mean that they don’t spend as much money playing them and that is going to hit the casinos. If they don’t make as much profit then another way in which they can manage their expenses is to cut back on the level of games that are being made. This could result in us missing out on the biggest new game titles, with developers instead of being tasked with producing games for a lower cost.
Will Some Casinos go Out of Business?
There is a real possibility of that happening. Just like we saw a number of betting shops close when the stake limit came into play there, we could see some of the smaller companies struggling to survive.
These are likely to be the smaller casino only services that are out there, these are the ones most at risk. Those with sportsbooks and other services attached should be able to cope, especially if sports betting is the main service they provide, something that continues to go from strength to strength.