High street bookmakers are to introduce new technology to their betting machines which will allow gamblers to set their own restrictions on how much time and money they spend.
The technology will be installed across England and Wales, along with 30-second breaks in play, as the Association of British Bookmakers installs new code of conduct measures to help combat gambling addiction.
33,000 machines will have the new technology installed across the two countries, while staff within bookmakers will be informed when a customer has reached their set limit.
The machines have been heavily criticised, with some saying they have effectively opened up remote casinos on the high street, and other have claimed that the high cash limits have seen many gambling addicts spend more than they can afford.
Meanwhile, while announcing a pre-tax profit decline for 2013, William Hill CEO, Ralph Topping addressed the controversy the industry causes.
"Gambling remains a source of political debate,” he stated. “We have taken firm steps in the last year to further improve responsible gambling outcomes in our shops with the development and implementation of the Association of British Bookmakers Code, addressing the areas that, we believe, can more effectively encourage the small proportion of customers who experience a problem to gamble responsibly. We are keen to ensure any decisions in this area are driven by facts and research. We are committed to being a leader in this area wherever we operate and will continue to work collaboratively with governments, regulators and our peers both to help our customers and to encourage industry-wide high operating standards.
"The work of the last five years to expand our product range, improve our user experience, innovate with our mobile offering and invest substantial sums in the williamhill.com brand have made us a formidable online competitor. That positions us very well ahead of the expected introduction of the Point of Consumption tax from December 2014. This has the potential to radically change the shape of the UK online gambling market and we are confident William Hill can, over time, take more market share as a result. In addition, we aim to mitigate some of the impact in 2015 by achieving £15-20m of cost savings against what we would otherwise have expected to spend in that year."
The new technology will be introduced from today (Friday 28 February.)