The Gambling Commission in the UK has launched a consultation regarding proposed changes for online slot games. With those changes the regulator is ultimately planning to reduce gambling-related harm.
The GC Urges for Changes Making Online Slot Games Safer for Users
July 9, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) started consultations regarding changes of the design of online slot games. Launching from today through September 3 2020, the Gambling Commission is ultimately looking to make the online slot games safer for the players. The UK regulatory body is offering to discontinue the following functionalities for slot games:
- Multiple screen functionality
- Quick spin, spin stop and auto-play functions
- False wins known as “losses disguised as wins” (LDWs)
Besides the proposed changes, the Gambling Commission is also offering to prohibit reverse withdrawals and introduce speed and play limits. Another proposed change is players to see their net position and session time. According to data by the Gambling Commission, the online slot games generate the largest gross gambling yield (GGY) among other online gambling products. Although only 1.2% of UK users play online slot games, the GGY per annum continues to increase making the online slot market worth £2.2 billion per annum. In their announcement, the GC said about slots:
This means it poses a relatively high risk, reflected in its associated problem and moderate-risk gambling rates.“
If the Changes are Accepted, Operators Must Comply
The Gambling Commission noted that in the event that the additional restrictions are accepted, operators will need to follow them and implement them. In other words, operators (and more specifically software developers) will have to implement those changes in their game titles for the market in order to make them compliant with the new regulation. Keeping that in mind, any title which is not in line with the new requirements by the Gambling Commission will not be available for the public. The regulator did not miss to add:
Proposals around the design of slots games are just the first step in keeping players safe. 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.“
Insight on the Proposed Restrictions
The proposed changes by the GC feature prohibiting the functionality for users to play multiple slot games at the same time. According to the regulator, this encourages consumers to gamble more intensively. Furthermore, the regulator noted that the multiple screen features may be preventing the players from keeping control over their gambling activities.
Another proposed restriction is the discontinuing of quick spin, spin stop, auto-play and similar functions. According to the GC, quick spin, spin stop or the commonly known “turbo” function contributes to intensifying of the gameplay. This deliberately speeds up the play while users have an “artificial illusion of control”. The GC urges that the system must not allow the users to reduce the waiting time before the result is presented.
On the other hand, the GC said that users who use auto-play: “… was giving up an element of control and introduced additional controls to counteract this.” According to the commission, researches often mention auto-play as a factor that potentially contributes to gambling-related harms. Here, the regulator urges that the gambling system must require the player to start each game cycle.
One more feature that is proposed by the GC to be banned is the “false wins”. The false wins function is also known as “losses disguised as wins” (LDWs). This is a method used by some gambling companies, where a loss is actually presented as a win. In other words, if the player wagers $10 and wins back $8, this is presented as a win, whereas the player actually lost $2. According to the GC, the system must not announce a win, which is less or equal to the amount which was wagered.