The UK Gambling Commission announces new slots restrictions

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) recently announced new slots restrictions aimed at promoting a safer, less intensive playing environment. Canadian players who engage with UKGC licensed casinos will feel the effects of the new restrictions which could potentially spread to other commissions.

The restrictions, which must be implemented by the 31st of October 2021, include a limit placed on reel spin speed and the permanent prohibition of features that speed up gameplay or frame losses as wins. Operators are also now required to display the player’s total losses and wins.

The UKGC states that its actions have become necessary considering the rapid growth of the popularity of online slot games and the associated risks.

Slots make up close to 70% of all online casino games and also have the highest average losses per player. In 2019, UK players spent a record £2.2bn on slots, with many not receiving much in the way of positive returns. The commission has already introduced restrictive measures for fixed-odds betting terminals at bookmakers where customers had access to online casino games at their establishments.

The UKGC’s new measures are in response to the addictive nature of slots and the effects on customer spending behaviour. The banned and restricted slots features have been proven to encourage binge playing, loss of player control, and increased play intensity. The ultimate objective of the commission is to provide better protection and minimise gambling-related harm.

There is opposition to the new gambling regulations with some British MPs criticising the commission who they say is not equipped to deal with online gambling due to its limited capacity. Software providers are likely to design their future titles with features that pre-emptively comply with the commission’s requirements.

Future actions

A total ban on sponsorship of football and darts team kits by gambling companies is set to be implemented later in 2021. This is already proving unpopular with sporting authorities as sponsorships of this type often bring in sizeable income.

The commission is also planning the enforcement of a ban on reverse withdrawals. This function allows online casinos where players reverse their decision to withdraw their winnings in favour of using them to play more rounds on their chosen slots. According to the commission, this practice is risky for players as it tempts them to keep gambling.

Over the past year, the UKGC has raised the age limit for potential National Lottery players and banned the use of credit cards as a depositing method for online casino accounts.

The increasingly restrictive measures are well-intentioned and address a serious, growing problem, but some wonder if the commission’s actions will result in all the fun being sucked out of online gambling in the UK.