UKGC opens discussion on curbing online slot games

Cvetanka Cvetanovska | Published 10 Jul 2020, 1:09 p.m.

The UK Gambling Commission has been in the spotlight and a subject to greater than usual criticism over the past few weeks. Two government reports – one from the Lords and the other from All-Party Parliamentary Group pointed the regulator for not having a clear and aligned action plan to make the industry reliable, safe and transparent for the public.

This week, the UK Gambling Commission has announced that it has opened a consultation process to make online slots safer for players. This decision has come after the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) published their recommendations to improve online slots in their June business update.

Possible changes in playing speed and frequency 

Recently the UKGC published an update of its consultations with various groups working on several aspects of consumer protection. This includes the game design group led by Scientific Gaming Corporation and Playtech. Also, this group featured input from so-called experts by experience or better said those who suffered a wide range of gambling harms.  
As mentioned, the changes put forward in the safer gambling initiative included a minimum spin of 2.5 seconds on slots. Moreover, all speed up play features are considered to be removed.

The GC identified that playing speed and frequency of betting opportunities can increase the risk of problem gambling. The proposed changes will help mitigate risks for slots players. In this update, we can’t forget to mention that online slots are the largest online gambling product by gross gambling yield (GGY).

The period of consultation is open From July 9th and it will be closed on September the 3rd. The GC will evaluate the impact of proposed controls and will take necessary actions.

In a statement of the GC, it is reported that recommendations around the slot games design are just one step in keeping players safe. Slots games are an area which has experienced great technological innovations in terms of product design and gameplay. They expect operators to show an equal and greater commitment to innovate and find appropriate solutions in terms of consumer protection. These actions will further form a comprehensive working package that aims to make online gambling safer.

Consultations on game design and reverse withdrawals ban

In addition, the UKGC wants the public to weigh in on these suggestions while also seeking a wider perspective on other aspects of game design. For example, in addition to split-screen slots bans, they want to ensure that operators will enable “one slot at a time” gameplay per account across multiple tabs, browsers, applications or devices.

They also want to review sounds and visual effects on slots that emphasise or encourage losses disguised as wins, or simply said- results that return less money than the customer staked. The UKGC proposes clear guidance and distinction between true winning spins (amount greater than total stake is returned) and other spins (less than or equal amount to total stake returned).

Furthermore, another area of interest is requiring operators to inform customers of their position, or letting the customer know whether or not they win or lose during a current gaming session, and by how much.

Apart from slots, the consultation seeks input on banning reverse withdrawals. This is the process where a customer can submit a withdrawal request but then attempts to cancel all or part of the withdrawal before the request is processed, assuming that they want to continue gambling. For this matter, the UKGC imposed a temporary moratorium on reverse withdrawals during the pandemic lockdown but now looks for legal ways to make this ban permanent.