‘Slow Down Your Slots!’ UK Regulator Introduces Raft of Restrictions for Online Casinos

Posted on: February 2, 2021, 09:30h. 

Last updated on: February 2, 2021, 01:15h.

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has announced a package of new rules designed to “strengthen the protections and controls for those who gamble through online slots games.”

UKGC
Online slots like Microgaming’s Mermaid’s Millions will soon be played at a more measured pace in the UK market. (Image: Microgaming)

On Tuesday, the regulator ordered operators to slow down their slots by introducing gaps of at least 2.5 seconds between spins.

It also demanded online casinos remove their autoplay functions, where players can set the game spinning automatically multiple times because these can result in players losing track of how much they are spending.

The features that give “the illusion of control” over the game will also be jettisoned.  The “sounds or imagery that give the illusion of a win when the return is in fact equal to, or below, a stake” will also be removed.

The rules are due to come into effect on Oct. 31.

Slots ‘Too Intense’

The UKGC said it was focusing on slots because of the intensity of play and the corresponding risk to players. They also have the highest average losses per player of any online gaming vertical by far, the regulator added.

According to UKGC research, slots player spend an average of £67 a month ($91), compared with £36 ($49) for casino products and £45 ($61) for sports betting. The regulated online gaming industry in the UK generated £3.18 billion ($4.34 billion) in the year to March 2020, 70 percent of which came from slots.

Additional measures include the requirement that operators clearly display a player’s losses or wins during a session prominently on the screen. There will also be a ban on reverse withdrawals for all online gaming. This means players will no longer be able to change their minds and carry on gambling after they have asked to cash out. 

Microgaming Supportive

Kimberley Broad is director of compliance at online gaming software giant Microgaming, which powers more than 800 online casinos. She told Casino.org that her company was supportive of the new measures. In fact, she said, as an influential member of the industry body the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), Microgaming played an active role in shaping and influencing them.

“These new measures focus on improving standards in the design and provision of online slots, and should be seen as a positive step forward – my personal view is that the UK market, and the wider industry for that matter, will continue to adapt and grow,” Broad said.

The rule changes come amid a wider review of the UK’s gambling laws, which is currently being undertaken by the government’s Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Insiders say a likely outcome of this will be a ban on gambling sponsorship in sports, plus the introduction of affordability checks for customers who lose over £100 in a month.