Why Do People Play FOBTs? Why Not Just Play Online Casino Games?

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FOBTs Online Casino Games

Fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTS) have become extremely popular in the UK over the past two decades. FOBTs give gamblers the chance to play a variety of electronic casino games.

One can visit a local betting shop and enjoy roulette, blackjack, virtual horse racing, or whatever else is available. This variety is one of the most appealing parts of FOBTs.

Of course, gamblers don’t have to visit a betting shop to play these games. They can just choose an online casino instead.

That said, why are UK gambler so obsessed with fixed-odds betting terminals when more convenient options exist? I’ll answer this question by discussing whether the pros of FOBTs make them worthwhile when compared to online casinos.

Basics of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals

A fixed-odds betting terminal (FOBTs) looks similar to a slot machine from far away. However, it definitely has some notable differences from the average slot.

As mentioned before, an FOBT can feature one of several forms of gambling. Roulette FOBTs are the most common across the UK.

However, you can also bet on virtual horses, play bingo, and enjoy blackjack hands. A slot machine, in contrast, only features slots.

Fixed-odds terminals are also typically found in betting shops across Britain, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. They essentially turn betting shops into mini casinos. Slot machines, on the other hand, are only available in casinos.

FOBT stakes run in a tight range. You can only risk up to £2 per bet. The £2 betting limit came about in 2019, when parliament drastically reduced the previous £100 maximum stake.

How Did FOBTs Become Popular?

Fixed-odds betting terminals first launched in the early 2000s. Betting shops began offering these machines as a way to supplement their sports gambling revenue.

Quickly thereafter, FOBTs became hits across the UK. Soon, shops were installing countless machines to keep up with the demand.

The government responded by limiting each betting shop to just four terminals. Parliament wanted to diminish what many began calling the “crack-cocaine of gambling.”

The betting industry found a way around these limitations, though. Major operators, such as William Hill and Ladbrokes, opened more shops so that they could offer additional terminals.

The UK eventually filled up with FOBTs. One could simply walk down to the street to the nearest betting shop and enjoy a variety of electronic gambling.

Fixed-odds terminals are still quite popular today. However, they’ve been dealt a serious blow by the aforementioned stakes reduction.

Advantages of FOBTs

Fixed-odds betting terminals don’t look to be going away anytime soon. They remain highly popular due to the following reasons.

Variety of Games

Slots developers are good at coming up with inventive themes. You can enjoy everything from adventure to fantasy themed slots.

But at the end of the day, you’re still playing the same type of games. You insert your money, spin the reels, and wait for the results.

FOBTs offer a larger variety of gaming. You’ll find bingo, blackjack, roulette, and virtual horse racing machines side by side.

You may ultimately prefer one type of gaming over the other. But you at least have the option to switch to something totally different.

Available in Social Settings

One drawback to UK online casinos is that they don’t provide any social aspect. You’re simply playing games by yourself on a smartphone or tablet.

Fixed-odds betting terminals don’t exactly provide the greatest social atmosphere either. After all, you’re just playing electronic versions of popular games.

Nevertheless, the betting shops where FOBTs are housed at least provide some social element. You can talk to the workers, chat with nearby players, or even bring your friends.

Play Without Having to Visit Casinos

If you want the ultimate gaming experience, then you should just head to a land-based casino. You’ll have more games to choose from and more gamblers to socialize with.

However, getting to casinos can be a hassle in many cases. You may have to drive or even fly to visit the nearest gambling establishment. Even if the casino is just a short drive away, you’ll have to find parking.

Visiting a betting shop, by comparison, is relatively easy. Assuming you live in the UK, you may even be able to walk to the nearest shop.

Downsides of FOBTs

Fixed-odds terminals definitely boast some advantages that have increased their popularity. However, you also should be aware of the following FOBT drawbacks.

Low Stakes Only

You used to be able to wager up to £100 per round with an FOBT. Now, however, you can only bet up to a maximum of £2.

This maximum bet reduction was done for the sake of problem gamblers. After all, gambling addicts are more likely to lose serious money through high stakes.

But a £2 cap seems a little extreme. You can’t even enjoy betting stakes ranging from £5 to £10 with these games anymore.

Limited Win Potential

FOBTs never rivaled slot machines in terms of jackpots to begin with. Now, they especially feature limited win potential due to the smaller stakes.

The biggest payout that you can win through roulette, for example, is 35:1 for a single-number bet. Given that you can only wager £2 at a time, the most you can win with this risky wager is £70.

Some virtual horse racing and bingo games give you a chance to turn small wagers into big payouts. Even still, they don’t rival what you stand to win in online casinos.

Must Travel to a Local Betting Shop

You don’t have to leave the house to play at an internet casino. Instead, you can just grab your smartphone and immediately begin placing bets.

The same scenario isn’t true with fixed-odds terminals. At the very least, you must walk down the street to a betting shop to play.

This jaunt isn’t nearly as hectic as getting to the average casino. But it still requires you to go somewhere before gambling.

FOBTs vs. Online Casino Games

I’ve discussed much on fixed-odds betting terminals up to this point. Now, I’ll dive more into online casinos and how they differ from FOBTs.

Internet casinos offer everything that fixed-odds terminals have and more. You can play baccarat, blackjack, craps, roulette, Three-Card Poker, slots, virtual horse racing (sometimes), and many other games at gambling sites.

As mentioned before, you don’t have to travel to play online either. Instead, you can enjoy real-money casino games through your smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Online casinos also offer large deposit bonuses. You simply need to make a deposit and meet terms and conditions to withdraw bonus funds.

Finally, gaming sites offer much larger stakes than FOBTs. You can bet up to £100 or more with many slots and table games.

Are Fixed Odds Betting Terminals Worth Playing?

For practical purposes, internet casinos are handier and more accommodating to gamblers than fixed-odds betting terminals. You don’t have to leave the house to play online, and you can place much larger bets when the mood strikes.

However, I’m not saying that FOBTs are completely worthless. They give you an opportunity to enjoy electronic casino games in a social environment.

Maybe you just want to gamble on the machines and be left alone. But if you feel like talking to somebody on a nearby machine or a worker, you have this option in betting shops.

You may also simply like the setting. Sometimes, gambling in a betting shop is more exciting than placing wagers on your couch.

Fixed-odds betting terminals are losing some popularity ever since the stakes were reduced. But you can see that they also have merits that’ll help them stick around for the foreseeable future.


FOBTs have become very popular despite the fact that they’re not as convenient as online casino games. Their popularity derives from notable advantages, including game variety and a social setting.

Those who want to enjoy casino gaming without the casino often visit betting shops. Here, they can enjoy plenty of fixed-odds terminals.

However, FOBTs aren’t without their downsides either. They feature low stakes, limited win potential, and less convenience than online gambling.

I personally prefer internet casinos to FOBTs. However, I wouldn’t blame you for wanting to gamble on FOBTs in a more social setting either.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...

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