UK’s Gambling Commission Starts Online Slots Consultation
This week, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission opened a public consultation on the design of online slots. Suggested legislative moves will be set out before the public, with any UK citizen allowed to express their opinion on the potential new rules.
Gambling operators and associations will also receive airtime to comment on the issue.
This may be the first step towards the long-expected (and discussed) overhaul of the United Kingdom’s gambling legislation, known as the Gambling Act 2005.
Some quick measures have already been implemented, such as the credit card ban back in April, but these more sweeping changes will need firmer approval from Parliament and the public.
Potential measures set out in the plan include:
- Forbidding casinos from allowing withdrawals to be reversed at a customer’s request
- Slowing the speed of online slots down to a minimum of 2.5 seconds per spin
- Blocking operators that allow one customer to play multiple slots at once on one screen
- Differentiating a “true win” (where more is won than the stake) from smaller wins that don’t actually add to the bankroll
- The removal of auto-play features
Speed of Play
“The speed of play, frequency of betting opportunities, as well as other factors on offer to players can increase addiction and risk of harm. The proposed changes outlined within this document will help to mitigate these risks for slots players,” said the UKGC’s statement that accompanied the launch.
“Slots is an area which has seen technological innovation in terms of product design, and we expect operators to continually show an equal, and indeed greater, commitment to innovate in terms of consumer protection,” they added.
The UKGC may also look to include slots in a separate regulatory department, which means a new license for slot developers looking to supply games to UK players.
The Remote Gambling Software and Technical Standards act could take over from the Remote Gambling Act 2005 as the key piece of legislation for slot developers and providers.
Currently, slots are not differentiated by law from other casino games, such as live casino titles or RNG virtual tables.
Slots are by far the biggest earner (by overall yield) for UK online casinos. However, they are played by a smaller number of players than some other games.
This suggests that a core group of slot players invest more than most other players, making them the most valuable customers at online casinos in the UK.
We expect the various industry representatives, such as the Betting and Gaming Council (or BGC), to digest the new measures and release a statement over the coming weeks.
Some measures will likely go relatively unopposed, such as stopping withdrawal cancels. Casinos have mostly seen the writing on the wall and started moving away from that practice over the past few years, with only a few outliers still doing it.
Other proposals, like reducing the speed of slots and removing auto-play, represent a level up in terms of the UKGC’s regulatory scope.
Also, such changes may prove difficult in practice. The UK will have to renegotiate licenses and terms with dozens of slot providers, some of whom may choose to leave the market instead of going through the hassle.
The UK’s government and any slot developers thinking about shelling out for a license also need to consider the current economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the upcoming final Brexit date.
This opens up UK lawmakers’ plans to the longstanding opposing argument—that banning things that some dedicated people enjoy doing at online casinos might drive them to shady and unlicensed international operators instead.
Keep checking these pages for the latest on this story as it develops, as well as all other latest regulatory happenings from around the world.