The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has closed its public consultation on the future of online slot design and associated in-game features. The closure brings to an end a period of two months in which the regulator sought opinions and insights from all interested parties on how to improve the current rules on slot development and make games safer for the general public.
Designated as a key part of their attempts to reform practices in the industry, the UKGC launched its consultation on the future of slot design back at the beginning of July, with the aim of gathering input on possible protections that could improve the current design of UK-facing slots games, which it described as the industry’s ‘most intensive product range’.
In launching the consultation, the UKGC said that it wanted to assess game features based on a range of factors. These included the speed of gameplay as well as the frequency of betting opportunities. They also said that they would be looking closely at a wider variety of factors that could increase the risk of gambling harm to players.
In announcing the consultation, a statement from the UKGC also outlined why they were focusing on this particular area of the UK gambling sector:
“Our interest in online slots is because it is the largest online gambling product by gross gambling yield – played by relatively few but with a high average spend. Structurally it has a number of features which can combine to significantly increase intensity of play.”
As part of its role in overseeing the regulatory development of the UK gambling sector, the UKGC has also highlighted the need to keep pace with changes in game design, and the need for a comprehensive framework of changes to slots games to make online gambling safer.
Last April, the CEO of the UKGC, Neil McArthur published the Business Plan for 2020/21 for the UK gambling sector, which confirmed that the sector would adopt a new code for game design that would incorporate compulsory safety features to be adopted by all licensed incumbents in the UK.
The code, which will be published in full later this month, will apply to all slots games hosted by UK operators and will require a number of features. It is reported that these will include a minimum spin speed of 2.5 seconds to apply for all slot games, along with the removal of features that may lead to more intensive playing of the games, including turbo buttons and slam stops. In addition, split-screen shots, which have been associated with potential for loss of player control will be banned. The UKGC will also announce the development of an additional framework of changes, which could include in-game safe gambling messaging and the launch of a Betting and Gaming Council Testing Lab.