Are B3 Machines
B3 machines, a harmless distraction during session breaks or the scourge of bingo halls? Well, according to the Christian Institute, they constitute ‘legalised mugging’. Recent legislation has allowed the pay outs on free standing slot machine to increase in both bingo halls and casinos. Great news, but, at the same time the machines are allowed to accept higher stakes (potentially bad news for some…).
They noted that as reported by the BBC that the machines are positioned within clubs so that patrons cannot cannot enter without passing them (perhaps in the same way ‘impulse buys’ are located at the checkouts of supermarkets). Underlying this is the notion that problem gamblers will find it difficult to pass without stopping and punting.
The article, notes that one player lost thousands on a nightly basis, eventually having a calamitous effect on her life. However, without having more data (either anecdotal or quantitative) it is hard to ascertain whether or not the machines really are a scourge.
We have recently noticed a similar media attack on the popularity of high stakes fixed odds betting terminals (FOBT) in the bookies across the country. Again, this related to a situation whereby thousands were being lost by punters, although in that case the process of losing thousands of pounds would take place in a matter of hours or even minutes as opposed to the periods reported by the Christian Institute.
The result of the media outcry in the case of the FOBTs in the betting shops resulted in the industry self regulating by agreeing to remove adverts from the front of their shops, although we’re not sure at this point whether or not the action has had any real impact on ‘hapless’ punters blowing their mortgage payments.
If in the case of bingo, the B3 machines really are becoming a scourge then it may fall on the industry itself to take action to prevent bingo players spending more than they can afford to lose. However, as it is bingo hall operators that usually own and hence profit from the machines then bearing in mind the financial struggles the halls are still enduring they are unlikely to clamp down on a needed revenue stream (they are after all businesses, not ‘morally bound’ community resources).
There is no getting away from the fact that bingo is gambling, however, it may be described as gambling with a ‘small g’. The bingo hall is a social and entertainment venue as much as it is a gambling venue. And, they are distinctly removed from betting shops, although parallels may be drawn with the casino experience.
Whether or not B3s are having any real detrimental effect on bingo players would be extremely hard to measure. However it can be extrapolated from the huge increase in their prevalence over the past few years that they are being used increasingly, and there may be a subsequent effect on at least some of the lives of bingo players.
This is a complex issue, and if you have any thoughts on it we’d like to hear from you. Are they a scourge, and if so, what could be done about them? Please leave a comment below it you would like to put your two pennies worth to the bingo community. Thank you.