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How Pub Gambling Machines Rip-Off Patrons

Digital gambling machines offering poker, roulette and blackjack in Britain’s pubs have been exposed by British media as being extremely unfair to players compared to machines in legitimate casinos.

Slot machines

The Independent, a UK news publication, recently conducted an investigation into the odds on which these games operate and revealed that they are vastly inferior. Players are being ‘misled’ into wagering their spare cash with a much smaller chance of a return than they realise.

The Independent listed the companies that operate pubs found to be hosting such machines, namely J D Wetherspoon, Enterprise Inns, Punch Taverns and Spirit Pub Company, which operates the Taylor Walker pub chain.

The Independent said, “Roulette and blackjack are often favoured by gamblers because they offer a reasonably gamer-friendly ‘edge’ … However, digital gaming machines in pubs offer far inferior odds, sometimes up to 10 times worse than in a casino.”

Crunching the numbers, The Independent explained that with roulette 2.7% was the standard edge, meaning that for every £100 wagered the house keeps £2.70. The games reviewed by The Independent in pub chains operated on margins of up to 24%, meaning they keep £24 for every £100 wagered, “often with little hint to gamers that they are playing at such inferior odds.”

Of course there is nothing illegal under Gambling Commission rules about machines with terrible odds, so long as players are given a chance to read the rules and see what sort of odds their up against. A spokesman for the Gambling Commission told The Independent, “Manufacturers, supplier and retailers should assure themselves that the rules of any casino-variant-style games are transparent, to ensure customers understand them. Failure to do so could lead to formal regulatory action for breaching the Gambling Commission’s technical standards.”

The shadow minister responsible for gaming, Clive Efford, said that if Labour wins the next election, one of the first things he will be doing is starting a discussion with the Gambling Commission to ensure people are made aware of the odds of these games. The major pub operators queried insisted to The Independent that they operate within all regulations.

There is obvious temptation for someone who is enjoying a casual drink to swell the cash in their pockets with a quick and easy win on a roulette game. The crux of the matter is simply that those who choose to play in pubs need to be made fully aware of the odds, and an actual casino is usually a much safer bet. 

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