UK Gambling Commission Announces Measures to Make Online Slots Safer by Design

by Ciaran McEneaney - Tuesday, February 2nd, 2021 12:41


Online slots

Following a consultation with the public and players, the UK Gambling Commission has announced the implementation of strict measures to protect players of online slots games.

Operators of online slots games available in the UK will have until the 31st of October 2021 to implement the necessary changes which include limits on spin speeds and a complete ban on any features that present losses as wins or those that speed up play.

The UKGC has decided to focus on online slots as their most recent research has indicated that online slots have the highest spend and highest average loss per player of any online gambling games.

GamblingIndustryNews.com spoke to Melanie Ellis, partner at Northridge Law LLP to get some clarification on which games the new measures will apply to. She told us:

“The new restrictions will take the form of additions to the Remote Technical Standards, which operators are obliged to comply with by way of a licence condition. It is worth noting that the new restrictions on slots apply to “casino games of a reel-based type” only. This includes games that have non-traditional reels, such as grid based games, but the Gambling Commission has stated that it does not intend the restrictions to apply to games which may have similar characteristics but are distinct from a slots game.

It will be for the software developer or supplier to determine whether a game is “slots” or not and advise their customers accordingly.

There is one change which applies to all online products, including betting and society lotteries, which is the ban on allowing consumers to cancel withdrawal requests.”

The strict new measures include an outright ban on the following:

  • Any features that speed up play
  • Slot spin speeds that are faster than 2.5 seconds
  • Autoplay
  • Any features (sounds or graphics) that suggest a win when the return is equal to, or less than the stake.

Other changes that operators must implement include:

  • Players’ total losses or wins to be clearly displayed alongside the duration of the playing session.
  • A permanent ban on reverse withdrawals across for all online gambling.

These additional measures come as a direct result of the consultation’s findings which showed that both autoplay and reverse withdrawals make it difficult for a player to keep track of their spending and losses. The consultation also found that players often associate the now banned features with increased intensity and binge play.

Speaking of the new measures, Gambling Commission chief executive Neil McArthur said:

“To make online games safer we are introducing a ban on features that speed up play, or give the illusion of control over the outcome. We are also introducing a ban on autoplay, losses disguised as wins, and slot spin speeds faster than 2.5 seconds. The evidence shows that these features increase the risk of harm to customers.”

The new measures have been met with widespread approval with Minister for Sports, Tourism and Heritage Nigel Huddleston saying:

“I welcome the Gambling Commission’s tough measures as we continue our comprehensive review of gambling laws to make sure they’re fit for the digital age.”

The new measures are the latest step in the Commission’s attempts to make gambling fair and safe for players. Prior to the announcement, the UKGC had already strengthened protections relating to age and ID verification and placed an outright ban on gambling using credit cards.

Ciaran McEneaney
Reporter

Ciaran has a decade of experience writing for some of the biggest names in the eSports, poker, and casino industries.