A ‘package of strict measures’ to be introduced as fresh security and restrictions on online slot games has been revealed by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).
The decision is in line with input from its July 2020 public consultation on ‘making online games safer by design’ in which the Commission discussed the risk and intensive play elements of online slots.
The UKGC highlighted, after widespread feedback, that new controls are expected to restrict ‘spin speeds’ while a permanent ban on features that ‘speed up play or celebrate defeats as wins’ will be enforced.
Removal of certain technical components
The UKGC reported as of 31 October that licensed online gambling operators must remove all technological components or features of slot games that relate to:
- Making slot spins faster than 2.5 seconds
- Autoplay – as players can lost track of their play
- Quickspin functionalities
- Gameplay sounds or imagery which give the illusion of a win when the return is in fact equal to, or below, a stake
The Commission stressed that the elimination of autoplay and quickspin features was a required necessity because ‘by far the highest average losses per player of any online gambling product’ were carried out by slot games.
In addition, all operators must display their ‘total losses or wins and time played during any online game session’ to slot players.
The Commission would impose a permanent ban on ‘reverse withdrawals’ beyond gameplay improvements, a feature that enables players to re-gamble cash that they had previously asked to withdraw.
Neil McArthur, UKGC’s CEO, said that after the evidence pointed to higher risks involved with ‘loss of player control or binge play’ the regulator had taken drastic steps to eliminate all intensified play features from slots.
He added: “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.”
New restrictions accepted by DCMS
The DCMS, regulating the UK’s gambling laws, has accepted new restrictions on online slots by the Commission as part of its legislative commitment to maintain a ‘comprehensive program to make gambling fairer and safe.’
With the new restrictions on online slots following its ‘stamp out of irresponsible VIP customer practices,’ sanctioned last October, DCMS praised the UKGC’s continuing actions to reform the online gambling industry.
DCMS sports minister Nigel Huddleston 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.”
By advising online operators that its actions on slots would be accompanied by its imminent decision on enhancing more ‘customer interactions’ beyond player verification and ID specifications, the UKGC ended its comment.