There has been a lot in the gambling news recently about fixed odds betting terminals or FOBTs as they are known and whether the UK government should do anything about them. This is not an Irish gambling problem as FOBTs are banned in Irish bookmaker’s shops but that does not stop Irish gambling providers such as Paddy Power from having them in their UK shops. The stated problem is that these machines bring the casino to the betting shop and players can bet up to £100 on a single spin of the roulette wheel which takes around 20 seconds. Gambling.ie cannot imagine there are too many punters who go into a bookmaker prepared to risk £300 per minute on what is usually roulette but there seem to be many who want to play for lesser stakes which can quickly mount up. The gambling companies love them of course because they provide a regular guaranteed income. Whereas at Cheltenham or football matches there are always upsets and even the bookies get it wrong sometimes the FOBTs cannot lose. That is of course not to say that every player who plays casino games is going to lose very time as it is known that some people win huge amounts at casinos but over the course of time the bookmaker cannot lose. Just banning them however is not the answer as proceeds from bookmakers shops help fund other forms of sports gambling such as horse racing.
Without funding from those sources which is known as the horse race betting levy the sport would be in dire straits. Jim Mullen the Chief Executive of Ladbrokes Coral recently waded into the argument claiming that if the maximum bet was reduced to £2 which is what is being rumoured hundreds of betting shops would close with the loss of possibly thousands of jobs. He also draws attention to the perceived increase in problem gambling by suggesting that independent studies over the past few years show that levels of problem gambling have not increased at all and remain well under 1% of the gambling population. Recently the Gambling Commission calculated that the figure for problem gambling was around 0.5%. These are UK figures but Irish gambling is probably around the same number. Strangely enough the whole argument is around these FOBTs in betting shops and online gambling gets no mention at all while every bookmaker regularly reports an increase in the popularity of gambling online whether that be sports gambling or online casino gambling. It is also interesting to note that many of the online casinos that are available to Irish casino players provide the ability to wager much more than €100 per spin of a roulette wheel or on hand of blackjack to say nothing of wagering a maximum number of lines at the maximum stake allowed on some of the progressive jackpot slots that are available.
Online casinos try hard to identify problem gambling but as in all forms of online gambling they can only see the size of the bets and the frequency of the gambling. The problem is that somebody who bets once a week and risks maybe a couple of hundred Euro and loses might have just blown the rent or the groceries for the week. On the other hand some of the top footballers earn thousands and thousands of Euro per week so betting three or four thousand Euro every day has no impact on their standard of living at all. It becomes impossible therefore for an online gambling provider to be certain that somebody has a problem and asking them is unlikely to reveal anything either.
The biggest advantage of the online casino is the range of casino games which it provides so instead on relying purely on luck which is the case at the roulette table there are games such as blackjack where an element of judgement can be applied to increase your chances of winning. The fact remains however that even with online casinos they cannot lose over the long term as every game has a margin. Even roulette which is played at every online casino has a margin. You may think that betting on red or black or odd or even numbers is a 50/50 but do not forget the zero or in the case of American Roulette the double zero as well. These numbers are neither red nor black nor odd nor even so all bets lose when these come up except bets on the number itself so that is the casino margin. Do not play American roulette if you can help it as clearly the casino margin is double that for European roulette. Online casinos have exactly the same margin for many games as land based casinos and in some instances such as casino slots they are likely to better. Slot machines found in casinos or clubs up and down the country will have payout margins set at around 90% at most and sometimes as low as 75% but at online casinos it can often be in the upper 90s. Some online casinos will actually publish figures but most do not.
The point to remember about all online gambling whether it is at online casinos or sports gambling is that it is just another form of entertainment and entertaining yourself generally costs money. This is true whether you go to a cinema, a restaurant or your online casino. Even going horse racing costs money to even get in let alone what you might want to wager. The best way therefore is to set yourself a budget that you are prepared to spend for that entertainment and stick to it. You would probably do that if you went horse racing so take exactly the same approach with your online casino gambling. The difference between going to a cinema or a restaurant and online gambling is that you never end up in profit at the restaurant and you never even get a free meal but gambling online can be very profitable with a bit of luck.