The UK gambling regulator, the UKGC has announced a new range of measures which are aimed at strengthening protections and controls that apply to the design of online slots games.
The changes included new limits on spin speeds, as well as a complete ban on features that speed up play or celebrate losses as wins.
The changes come as a result of consultation with the public, gambling sector customers, gambling firms and other stakeholders. As a result, operators will need to implement tough new player protection measures that the UKGC hopes will make casino games less intensive, being safer by design and will give players more control over their gambling.
The UKGC say they have focused on online slots because this genre of gaming has a number of features that increase the intensity of play and the risks to players. Evidence shows that slots have the highest average losses per player of all online gambling products.
The rules contain four specific changes that must be made to all online slots games. Features that speed up play or offer the illusion of a skill element to the play are to be banned, along with spin speeds longer than 2.5 seconds. Auto play will also be outlawed, along with any feature that provide the illusion of a win when a return is less than or equal to the stake.
In addition to these four headline measures, operators will be required to clearly display to the player their losses in total as well as the time played during any online slots session. These are backed up by a complete ban on reverse withdrawals, which allow customers to re-gamble using money that they had included in a withdrawal request.
All licensed operators will have to be compliant with the rules by October this year.
The UKGC say that there has been clear evidence, through the consultation that began last July and other sources, that autoplay, reserve withdrawals and the now-outlawed slots features all have an impact on encouraging players to use slots games in harmful ways.
Speaking about the changes, the Chief Executive at the UKGC, Neil McArthur, said that they were important steps towards making UK gambling safer, and didn’t rule out the prospect of further changes in future.
The rules were also welcomed by the Minister for Sports, Tourism and Heritage Nigel Huddleston, who said that they would help to protect players, and would complement the work being done by the government on reviewing the 2005 Gambling Act:
“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.”
The new rules follow a string of new measures introduced by the UKGC in recent months, including stronger ID and age protections, improved customer interaction practices, and the banning of gambling on credit cards. Action has also been taken to reform the VIP practices of online casinos.