Come September Slots, UK Government Stakes The Heart of British Betting

In a move from September that could cost the UK gambling industry hundreds of millions of pounds in lower earnings, the British government has decided to bring in a £2 stake limit for 18- to 24-year-olds playing online slots and a £5 per-bet-cap for adults aged 25-years and older.

Worth some £3.2 billion a year in revenues–more than a quarter of the country’s total annual gross gambling yield (GGY) of £11 billion–, slots are the biggest vertical of all in the national gaming space.

The government, conservatively, estimates that the stakes limitations will cost iCasinos at least £166.2 million in lost revenue and impact the online slots GGY by some 5.2 percent.

Hitherto, unlike retail gaming machines in the UK, online slots have had no statutory stake limits.

The imposition of stake limits on online slots is the first concrete move in the government’s decision to reform British betting regulations since the publication of their gambling White Paper in April last year, which aims to bring the UK’s outdated 2005 Gambling Law into the digital age.

Research was based on analysing staking data extrapolated from the estimated 70 billion online slots spins “pulled” in the financial year to March 2023.

Low High Stakes

The data showed that high stakes are, in fact, a very small percentage of all spins.

Stakes over £5, for example, comprised just 0.06 percent of all spins and stakes over £20 comprised just 0.02 percent of all spins, according to the government’s staking data.

The staking data was included in the consultation to assist respondents in forming their own views.

Patently, the new online slots limitations are designed to boost Responsible Gambling safeguards and protect players from binge betting and wagering harms.

“Although millions of people gamble safely every single day, the evidence shows that there is a significantly higher problem gambling rate for online slot games,” said The Rt. Hon. Stuart Andrew (pictured right), the latest in a long line of ministers from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, who have grappled with the complexities of UK gambling reform and updating the 2005 legislation.

“We also know that young adults can be more vulnerable when it comes to gambling-related harms, which is why we committed to addressing both of these issues in our White Paper.

“The growing popularity of online gambling is clear to see, so this announcement will level the playing field with the land-based sector and is the next step in a host of measures being introduced this year that will protect people from gambling harms,” he added.


Leading anti-gambling campaigner Labour MP Carolyn Harris, who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm, gave limited welcome to the slots measure.

“I am pleased that the government has seen sense and opted for a £2 limit for people under 25,” she said.

“There is, however, clear evidence that a £2 limit should be in place for everyone to prevent harm. The government has sided with the industry and should rethink.”

The slots limits were imposed following a 10-week consultation with gambling industry stakeholders, between July and October last year.

It is the first move in an action plan to “modernise” Britain’s impressive £11-billion-a-year betting business, already considered progressive and world-leading.

“[Our research shows] online slots are very high-risk products,” said Zoë Osmond, CEO of charity GambleAware.

“As we continue our work to tackle this growing public health issue, we will collaborate with the government and others across the gambling harms sector to ensure there are no missed opportunities when it comes to the introduction of robust preventative measures, including new regulations such as these.”

Other gambling reforms in the offing include a proposal for ramped-up affordability checks and a mandatory charge on operators for research, prevention and treatment.

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