The phenomena of fixed odds betting terminal (FOBT) has been sweeping the UK for years. They are basically machines which have roulette, cartoon races, blackjack etc to be played by a single individual. Now on the face of it they are no harm to man or beast but look at it closer they are the worst things ever for gamblers. I have in the past have referred to them as crack cocaine for gamblers.
Some may say that this is not Fair because they serve a purpose and that they are no different to gamblers who play casino or other online gambling games on a computer. This is true, however, the difference that I see with these machines is that their are becoming the main stay of bookies which make it easy for bookies to market to the ordinary punters and consequently easier to lose.
With online gambling it is sometimes a hassle to get to play the game you want to play because online betting firms are scared stiff of online fraud so they will accept money easily enough, but, are very reluctant to pay out too quickly which let the punter know that using a site maybe be more trouble than its worth.
With FOBT they operate on cash, there are no electronic paper trail and you do not have to be computer proficient to use them. Basically you stick your money in and watch the pretty pictures until you lose all your cash. The first game which really grabbed a hold of punters was cartoon racing. This could only go so far as the game could only replicate live horse racing to a point then it has no more fun than a fruit machine. I have recounted a story many times about 3 guys in a bookie discussing in diligent and earnest discussion on the relevant merits of a cartoon jockey!!!? This was the most truly amazing scene ever and in my betting life i have seen many strange and wonderful things. I think the reason cartoon races are popular is that a 33/1 price on a horse has a genuine 1 in 33 chance (genuine in the sense that after the bookies cut there would be a roughly 3% chance of that horse winning). With real horse race a 33/1 shot may not be a genuine 33/1 shot it maybe 50/1, 100/1 or more. Therefore in relative terms you are getting value on the cartoon races.
FOBT’s really struck gold when they started doing roulette. Unlike real roulette there was no waiting time, no payout time. The game was run as quickly as the player could put there ‘chips’ on the numbers and each wheel spin was over in a flash. Cartoon roulette therefore gave the punter quick and easy way to lose money, while the bookie increased turnover without having to resort to extra staffing cost or bonuses to attract punters. With a built in 3% advantage there will be punters who will win now and then, put if they play the game over time the punter will always lose, its a no brainer.
Gamblers are terrible at leaving a winning game. Its not what most gamblers do. The bookies know this that is why these machines are popular with the bookies. It makes it very difficult to walk away. The government recognise this and there is a stipulation that each betting office cannot have more than 4 machines in that office. I have talked to many betting managers and all have said that they would rather have FOBT than have to manage bets on sporting events especially bets from people like me who will always try to get an edge by using complicated maths to bamboozle the cashier who was never trained to do complex permutations and combinations therefore getting it wrong in my favour of me. If they get it wrong against me then i will complain, if they get it wrong in my favour then I will smile and walk away happy.
FOBT’s do not have that advantage. It is a ‘one-armed bandit’ for the 21st Century and we know what they did they robbed the punter with one arm. I was watching a young lad playing one of these machines and he was placing massive bets on certain numbers, he lost repeatedly. We had a chat while I wrote out my bet for the football and he confessed that he had not eaten for 5 days! The guy was a wreck. I advised he to see a doctor as it is not helpful to his health not eating and to leave those machines alone as they will do more harm to him than anything in the world. FOBT will never be banned but if you catch yourself playing them then you are truly a mug and should not be left alone with money.