Insights Gambling Commission announces package of changes to make online games safer by design

The Gambling Commission has announced a package of strict measures which it says will strengthen the protections and controls for those who gamble through online slots games, including the introduction of limits on spin speeds, and the permanent ban on features that speed up play or celebrate losses as wins.

The Commission says that following a public consultation, operators will need to implement tough new player protection measures which will make online casino games less intensive, safer by design and hand players more control over their gambling.

The Commission says that it focused on online slots because of its features which increase the intensity of play and the corresponding risks to players. Slot games have by far the highest average losses per player of online gambling products, it says. The new rules include the outright ban of four key features of online slots games:

  • features that speed up play or give the illusion of control over the outcome;
  • slot spin speeds faster than 2.5 seconds;
  • auto-play, which can lead to players losing track of their play; and
  • sounds or imagery which give the illusion of a win when the return is in fact equal to, or below, a stake.

Other changes include:

  • operators must clearly display to the player their total losses or wins and time played during any online slots session;
  • alongside the changes for online slots the Commission has also introduced a permanent ban on reverse withdrawals for all online gambling; this function previously allowed consumers to re-gamble money they had previously requested to withdraw;

These enhanced protections will need to be fully implemented by online operators by 31 October 2021.

The Commission says that since publication of its consultation in July 2020, further research has shown that using an auto-play feature has been linked to some players losing track of play, making it difficult for some to stop playing and in some cases gambling on other activities simultaneously.

Evidence shows that reverse withdrawal functions present a risk to players because of the temptation to continue gambling. In addition, the slot features being removed or more closely controlled have been associated with increased intensity of play, loss of player control, or binge play. To read the Commission’s announcement in full, click here.