The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) made the recent announcement of a ‘package of strict measures’ that form part of new protections and controls for online slots games.
The measures came about following feedback from a public consultation that the commission initiated in July 2020. The consultation's focus was ‘making online games safer by design.’ And it inspired the commission to focus on the risks of intensive play elements in online slots.
The UKGC concluded that new controls were necessary to remove ‘spin speeds’, and that features that ‘speed up play or celebrate losses as wins’ must be permanently banned.
As per The UKGC ruling, from 31 October all licensed online gambling operators will not be allowed to include specific slot game technical components and features.
The exclusions include any functions that can cause a slot to spin faster than 2.5 seconds, Autoplay features where players can lose track of their play, Quickspin features, and gameplay sounds and images that celebrate a win that is equal to, or below the wager.
The Commission stated that removing Autoplay and Quickspin features are urgent and essential measures as slot games carried ‘by far the highest average losses per player of any online gambling product’.
Operators will also be compelled to present the ‘total losses or wins and time played during any online game session’ to slot players. The Commission will also place a permanent ban on ‘reverse withdrawals‘, which allows players to re-gamble money they had previously requested to withdraw.
Neil McArthur, the Chief Executive of the UKGC advised that the new measures’ are informed by evidence that proves higher risks associated with ‘loss of player control or binge play’.
He 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,” he said. “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. This is another important step in making gambling safer and where the evidence shows that there are other opportunities to do that we are determined to take them.”
The department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) which maintains oversight of gambling laws in the UK approved of the Commission’s measures for online slots as a component of its regulatory obligation to preserve a ‘comprehensive programme to make gambling fairer and safe’.
DCMS heaped approval on the UKGC’s plans to reform the online gambling industry. The new restrictions for online slots line up with its ‘stamp out of irresponsible VIP customer practices’ from October 2020.
Nigel Huddleston, the DCMS sports minister said, “Today’s steps will help curb the intensity of online gambling, introducing greater protections that will reduce the risk of gambling-related harm. 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 UKGC concluded by advising online operators that the new measures will be followed by its forthcoming judgement on the improvement of ‘customer interactions’ over and above player verification and ID requirements.