UKGC: game design changes having positive impact on behaviour


An assessment on the impact of game design changes introduced almost two years ago has discovered “no significant negative impacts on play or behaviours,” a study conducted by the UK Gambling Commission has reported.

It was found that the raft of alterations, which were devised to strengthen protections and controls, have not resulted in harmful unintended consequences, with a drop in play intensity specifically cited.

The report utilised “key sources” from the regulator’s online tracker survey, which collects quarterly data from a national sample of approximately 2,000 adults aged 18 and over across Great Britain, in addition to 1,000 aged 16+.

Following the introduction, the UKGC also reports evidence of no clear increase in staking despite a limit of spin speeds, as well as no “significant negative impact” on overall enjoyment.

In addition, the proportion of high value stakes reportedly dropped in the immediate months following the changes, with respondents also indicating that gambling on multiple tabs simultaneously decreased.

However, despite adding that “general engagement with slots increased over the same time period,” the survey also said that the proportion of players experiencing a ‘binge’ on online slot games has remained stable.

“Slots still appear to be viewed as a product that is easy to become engrossed in,” a report issued by the UKGC stated.

The changes introduced in October 2021 included a limit on the speed of spins, as well as bans on features that speed up play or give an illusion of control over outcomes, autoplay and sounds or imagery that signal a win when the outcome is equal to, or below, the original stake.

Furthermore, operators were also required to “clearly display” total losses or wins and time played during any online slots session.

“Our assessment of the changes to online slots games has shown indications of reduced play intensity with no significant negative impacts on play or behaviours,” Tim Miller, Director for Policy and Research, said.

“That’s positive, but we aren’t complacent and will continue to monitor this specific part of the sector for both any unintended circumstances, or non-compliance.”

Deliberations on further proposals are to commence during the summer, with the Commission to consider the changes outlined above as “part of the evidence base” when consulting on other products and games.

“The Commission has committed to extend our work on product features, which initially focused on online slots, to strengthen rules relating to intensity of play on other products,” the regulator added.