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Are Bookies Roulette Machines Fixed?

Are Bookies Roulette Machines Fixed?

Without a doubt, the world of betting has always been a magnet for controversy and debate. One question that has continually been questioned by gamblers is - Are bookies roulette machines fixed? This subject has drawn opinions from different angles, stirring heated discussions among players, experts, and even lawmakers. This article intends to examine this question in depth, providing readers with a comprehensive understanding of the mechanics behind these machines, the regulations governing them, and the perspectives of various stakeholders.

What are Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs)?

Before delving into the debate, it's essential to grasp what Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) are. FOBTs are a type of electronic slot machine predominantly seen in betting shops across the UK. First introduced in 1999, these terminals allow players to wager on the outcome of multiple games, including roulette, with fixed odds. The potential return to a player (RTP) is legally required to be shown on the machine.

The Mechanics of FOBTs

FOBTs typically include a touchscreen and a slot for depositing cash. They rely on Random Number Generators (RNGs) - computer algorithms that produce millions of numbers per second. Each number corresponds to a potential game outcome, like a specific number on a roulette wheel. When a player hits 'spin', the program selects one of these numbers, determining the result of that round. This mechanism is thought to ensure randomness and fairness, although its validity is often questioned.

The Controversy: Are FOBTs Rigged?

Despite the assurances of randomness offered by RNGs, many players argue that FOBTs are rigged. These claims often stem from players' experiences of losing streaks, leading to suspicions that the machines are programmed to prevent winning. Some players argue that the machines are more likely to yield winning results during the initial stages of play, only to change the odds once larger bets are placed. However, these allegations remain largely anecdotal, and there is no concrete evidence to substantiate the claims of rigging.

The Industry's Response

In response to the allegations of rigging, industry experts and operators argue that FOBTs are regulated by strict guidelines. The machines are programmed by independent software companies, such as Microgaming or NetEnt, and are often tested by third-party organizations like eCOGRA. These regulatory bodies have no vested interest in the outcome of the games and are therefore believed to certify the games as fair.

Regulatory Oversight of FOBTs

The regulation of FOBTs is a critical factor in this debate. Gambling authorities, such as the UK Gambling Commission, have strict legislation in place to govern these machines. For instance, UK betting shops are only allowed to offer specific categories of content on their FOBTs and can have up to four terminals in their premises. These rules aim to mitigate the risk of addiction and gambling-related harm.

A Look at Bookies' Practices

Bookmakers have been accused of introducing new roulette-style games to circumvent the regulations on betting machines. For instance, one company introduced a virtual cycling game where customers could bet up to £500, causing controversy and attracting regulatory attention. Such practices are seen as attempts to exploit loopholes in the law and continue to fuel the debate on whether bookies' roulette machines are fixed.

The Impact of Stake Limit Reduction

In a bid to protect vulnerable gamblers, a stake limit reduction from £100 to £2 was implemented on FOBTs in the UK. This decision stirred reactions within the industry, with some companies innovating new games to circumvent the limit. Critics argue that such actions contravene the spirit of the limit reduction and further feed the perception that roulette machines are fixed.

The Community's Perceptions

The perceptions of the gambling community play a significant role in this debate. Many players share their experiences on online forums, resulting in divided opinions. While some firmly believe that FOBTs are rigged, others argue that the machines are not manipulated, and losing streaks are a natural part of gambling. The community's perceptions are influenced by individual experiences, contributing to the ongoing debate.

The Future of FOBTs

The future of FOBTs seems uncertain given the controversies surrounding them. Regulatory bodies continue to scrutinize the operations of these machines, leading to potential changes in laws. Moreover, the negative perceptions among gamblers may influence the popularity of these machines. These factors combined could significantly impact the future of FOBTs in the world of gambling.


In conclusion, the question "Are bookies roulette machines fixed?" continues to spark contentious debates. While there are allegations of rigging, counterarguments insist on the fairness of these machines due to regulatory oversight and third-party testing. Until concrete evidence emerges, the debate will continue to rage. Ultimately, it is crucial for players to understand the mechanics of these machines and the regulations governing them to make informed decisions about their gambling practices.

Author’s Biography

Thomas James is an experienced journalist and content writer who has worked in the online slots industry for years. He brings a wealth of insight and experience to his writing, having interviewed many of the leading slot developers and operators in the UK.

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