UK Gambling Commission Announces New Restrictions For Online Slots
The UK Gambling Commission has announced a series of new restrictions for online slots with an aim to better protect players and crackdown on gambling-related harm.
The UK’s gambling regulator announced the new changes this week, telling all UK-based operators that they must make changes to the way online slots play at their casinos to make the games safer for all players.
According to the UK Gambling Commission’s official news post, the changes will see an outright ban on four key features which are currently present in online slots. They include a ban on features that speed up play or give the illusion of control over the outcome of spins, a ban on slot spin speeds faster than 2.5 seconds, a ban on the autoplay mechanic which the Commission says has led players to lose track of their play, and a ban on sounds or imagery which give an illusion of a win when the return is actually equal to or below the player’s original stake.
In addition, the Commission has announced two other changes which operators will be required to follow; a permanent ban on reverse withdrawals and a requirement that operators must clearly display a player’s total losses or wins and their time played during an online slot session. The new measures will need to be implemented by October 31, 2021, and come after the Commission’s consultation on slot play from July 2020.
According to the Commission, the autoplay feature in online slots has been linked to some players losing track of play, making it harder for some users to stop playing, and in some cases has allowed users to gamble on other games simultaneously. What’s more, in its announcement the Commission cited research which states that reverse withdrawal functions present a risk to players through the temptation of continuing to gamble. The slot features removed under the measures were also shown to be associated with increased intensity of play, a loss of player control, and binge play, all of which can help contribute to gambling-related harm.
Neil McArthur, the Chief Executive at the UK Gambling Commission, said in a statement: “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.”
He added: “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.”
Nigel Huddleston, the Minister for Sports, Tourism and Heritage, added: “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 new measures are the latest implemented by the UK Gambling Commission as part of its pledge to make online gambling fairer and safer. Previous measures have included tough age and ID verification, improved customer interaction policies, and an outright ban on the use of credit cards for gambling.
Ladbrokes Owner Entain Launches Players’ Panel
As the UK Gambling Commission strives to make gambling safer, online gambling operators have been too. This week, Entain, the owner of big brands like Ladbrokes and Coral, has announced the launch of its Players’ Panel which aims to provide its customers with a voice on all gambling issues in the UK.
As reported by FocusGN, customers from Entain brands Ladbrokes, Coral, and Gala Bingo have been invited to join the panel voluntarily, with no payment offered. Entain hopes that the panel will allow its customers to discuss issues in gambling, and the operators will provide the panel with contact to the media, company stakeholders, and politicians to share their views with the wider gambling industry.
The panel will reportedly contribute to the ongoing discussion regarding proposals being considered in the UK, the UK Government’s review of the Gambling Act 2005 and the potential new restrictions coming with it, like stake limits, tighter advertising regulation, and a ban on sports betting sponsorships.
Grainne Hust, the Corporate Affairs Director at Entain, said in a statement: “Betting and gambling is a popular pastime for many people, yet the individuals who take part in it regularly and recreationally are rarely asked their opinion. At Entain, we are committed to putting our customers first, and the Players’ Panel is an additional way to ensure that the voice of our regular customers are considered in the debate about the future of our industry.”
A member of the Players’ Panel was quoted as saying: “Until now, we didn’t have any voice in the elite debate about gambling – even though it’s our hobby that’s being discussed. No one wants to see kids betting or people putting themselves at risk, but freedom of choice and personal responsibility are also really important. There must be more that can be done to protect people, but we have to get the right balance.”
The news comes after a series of reports claimed that a ban on football shirt sponsorships is “likely” under the Government’s review of the Gambling Act 2005. As we reported, sources “close to Downing Street” have said that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in favour of the ban and is looking to make major reforms in the way gambling works.