UKGC introduces package of enhanced protections for online slots

The UK Gambling Commission has detailed a raft of strict measures that must be implemented by operators, with an aim of strengthening protections and controls for those who gamble through online slots games.

These include the introduction of limits on spin speeds and a permanent ban on features that speed up play or celebrate losses as wins, which need to be fully implemented by online operators by October 31, 2021.

This follows a consultation with the public and players, gambling industry and other stakeholders, with the subsequent measures aiming to make online casino games less intensive, safer by design and hand players more control over their gambling.

“Today’s steps will help curb the intensity of online gambling, introducing greater protections that will reduce the risk of gambling related harm,” Nigel Huddleston, minister for Sports, Tourism and Heritage, said of the introductions.

“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 regulator says that it focused on slots as they “have by far the highest average losses per player of online gambling products,” and include features which, the UKGC says, increase the intensity of play and the corresponding risks to players.

The new rules include the outrights ban of features that speed up play or give the illusion of control over the outcome; slot spin speeds faster than 2.5 seconds; autoplay, which it says can lead to players losing track of their play; and sounds or imagery which give the illusion of a win when the return is in fact equal to, or below, a stake.

Furthermore, a permanent ban on reverse withdrawals will also come into effect, and operators have been instructed that they must clearly display total losses or wins and time played during any online slots session to players.

Neil McArthur, Gambling Commission chief executive, explained: “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.

“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.”