In what is being heralded as a major boost to safer iGaming, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), the body that regulates British betting, has announced tough new rules governing online slots.
Under the new codes, starting October 31, all licensed Internet gambling operators will have to permanently ban features that allow slot spins faster than 2.5 seconds, autoplay, other so-called “quick-spin” functions and sensory audio-visual hyping.
Operators must also ensure that virtual slot machine players can clearly see their “total losses, or wins, and time played during any online game session,” the Commission said in a statement.
Slot games “carry by far the highest average losses per player of any online gambling product,” the statement said. Accordingly, it was imperative to remove autoplay and quick-spin features to protect punters and to ensure a safer gambling experience.
Hard-core anti-gambling campaigners may be tempted to dismiss the online safety drive as a pre-emptive publicity drive—amid the ongoing Official Review of the 2005 Gambling Act—that is designed to counter the threat of a draconian crackdown on gaming.
But the UKGC’s decision follows feedback from its consultation with the Great British public last July to “Make Online Games Safer by Design”.
“Autoplay, losses disguised as wins and slot spin speeds faster than 2.5 seconds…[all] the evidence shows that these features increase the risk of harm to customers and are associated with loss of player control or binge play,” said UKGC Chief Executive Neil McArthur.
“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.”
The Commission has also banned “reverse withdrawals”, a controversial function that allows players to re-gamble money they had previously requested to withdraw.
Nigel Huddleston, Secretary of State for Sport at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which oversees the gambling industry, hailed the UKGC safety move.
“[These] 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,” said Huddleston.
The UKGC move was also embraced by the industry’s Betting and Gaming Council (BCG).
“We welcome the announcement, which builds on the BGC’s new code of conduct from last September for the design of online games in a bid to further improve player safety,” said the Council’s Chief Executive Michael Dugher.
The UKGC has previously implemented far stricter online player and identification checks and banned gambling on credit cards.