Chisholm Bookmakers has called the launch of double zero roulette a “small but definite improvement to gaming machine income.”
Three weeks ago, Howard Chisholm, the bookmaker’s managing director, launched the game on a trial basis to mitigate the huge revenue loss arising from the government’s reduction of max stakes on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) to just £ 2.
Speaking at last week’s Bookmakers Trade Fair in Solihull, Chisholm said his roulette turnover subsequently dropped by 15%, but net profit was up by 70%.
“When roulette was a B2 game with £100 per spin maximum, the game probably accounted for over half of all gaming machine income,” he explained. “This was due to the size of stakes that could be played, the game was offered in a single zero format.
“Yet, since the government ruling came in on 1 April, B2 games have become unviable and so roulette is now offered as a category B3 game. Serious roulette players have, therefore, left the betting shop for online or land based casinos where stakes are higher.
“Consequently, the proportion of income generated by roulette games in a betting shop has dropped substantially. It is now probably between 10 and 20% of gaming machine income.”
Chisholm acknowledged that the major concern with double zero roulette was whether shop punters could play the game with a raised 5.4 percent margin.
“Slots games available on B3 generally run at margins of between 7 and 12%,” he continued. “However the margin of single zero roulette is only 2.7%; this is small in comparison to slots. Introducing double zero roulette with a margin of 5.4% takes it closer to slots but still represents good value against slots for the customer.
“The concern that most bookmakers have is that doubling the margin on a game should, in theory, half the turnover as customers will, on average, be losing their money twice as quickly – i.e. if margin doubles and turnover halves then gross win says the same.”
Therefore, Chisholm was pleased to report that turnover had dropped by only 15%. “It appears that the leisure players that are now playing roulette in betting shops are not as price sensitive as bookmakers might think,” he concluded.
“Yet, this should be taken into context. A 70% increase in roulette income only represents an increase in gaming machine income of between 7 and 14%.
“This is compared to a more than 30% drop in gaming machine income that has occurred since the change to B2 stakes on 1 April. So, as I said at the Trade Fair, it is a small but definite improvement to gaming machine income.”