UK says slot machines to become more player-safe

by Karina Chen Last Updated
Slot player image gaming

Online slot machines in the UK will provide a better experience and be safer for players in the future under new legislation being proposed.

The Gambling Commission, which is currently undertaking a review of UK online gambling, has recommended betting companies and casinos improve their products for consumers.

It is part of its national strategy to tackle problem gambling, make betting more enjoyable and trustworthy, and bring online betting laws up to date with 2021.

Online betting in the UK is currently legislated via the 2005 Gambling Act, which is considered outdated since the past 16 years have sparked an explosion in online gaming barely touched upon in the law.

The Gambling Commission has put forward instructions for betting companies to change their products in order to improve the experience of online betting for consumers.

This includes:

  • Scrapping features that speed up play or give the illusion of control over the outcome
  • Cutting the time between slot spins to at least 2.5 seconds
  • Scrapping autoplay features in slot machines
  • Stopping sound effects or visual images that give the illusion of a win when the return is in fact equal to, or below, a stake

Operators have also been told to clearly display a player’s total wins and losses. And there is now a ban on reverse withdrawals, where players used to be able to “re-gamble money they had previously requested to withdraw”.

Positive for casinos and players

The proposed changes to how slot machines display their information will only help players remain in control while spinning on the reels. And there is hope among casino operators that raising the standard of their games will prevent players from seeing unlicensed operators elsewhere on the internet.

Minister for Sports, Tourism, and Heritage Nigel Huddleston said, “Today’s 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.”

Online slot machines have been part of the UK gambling landscape for over 20 years. During this period many players have enjoyed placing bets and some have even become millionaires from a single spin.

What’s more, the BBC reports Britons spent over £2.2bn on online slot games in 2019, which is a huge source of tax revenue for the UK government. The Gambling Commission estimates slots account for 15% of online betting games in the country.

The industry is also making efforts to curb problem gambling which can occur for a small portion of bettors. As the Guardian reported, less than 4% of online gamblers were deemed to be addicted to playing games in 2018, which is lower than players who bet in highstreet bookmakers and casinos. European betting company Kindred, which owns brands such as Unibet and 32Red, recently became the first operator to issue a pledge to earn zero revenue from problem gaming by 2023. Efforts that include player monitoring and intervention through a Player Safety system called PS-EDS will help the company tackle these issues. 

Further proposals on how to improve the playing experience for online slot machines are expected in the coming months. Operators have until October 31, 2021 to implement the Gambling Commission’s instructions.

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