Autoplay and quick spin are common features you find on most online slots that take credit cards, alongside other features. Among other things, players have used these features to fasten their gameplay, while either losing or winning their bets. As much as these features represent the innovations to have happened to slots, it may generally be inimical, reasons the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (subsequently referred to as the Commission).
The interest of consumers comes first in all business and value considerations with respect to gambling. And it’s for this reason that the Commission has deemed it necessary to work assiduously to thwart all features in slots that cause or could cause problem gambling.
Consultation with Stakeholders to Prohibit Autoplay and Quick Spin in Slots
The Commission is one of the boldest gambling control and licensing bodies in the world, mainly due to the UK being one of the biggest casino markets in the world. The Commission has opined that only 1.2% British adult population play online slots, but the game generates far more revenue than other games.
It said online slots have features that are fast-paced, making players spend substantially high amounts to keep having fun or chasing their losses.
According to the Commission, “… speed of play, frequency of betting opportunities, as well as other factors on offer, can increase addiction and risk of harm.” This and more have prompted the Commission to launch a consultation to run from July 9 through to September 3, for all stakeholders to submit recommendations for possible consideration. Before the consultation, however, it had empowered a Working Group on game design, spearheaded by game developers Scientific Games and Playtech.
The Working Group proposed for some features to be disallowed, including turbo or slam-stop, and split-screen slots, as well as introducing a baseline game cycle. The Commission took back the responsibility from the Working Group, seeking to beef up controls and regulatory frameworks. Thus, its new proposals would be added to those of the Working Group, as they are still very much valid regardless.
In a bid to forestall designers from manipulating the definition of slots to include bizarre features, the consultation seeks to expand the definition of slots. This would be contained in the Gambling and Software Technical Standards (RTS), so as to provide a definition that won’t be susceptible to fraud.
In clear terms, the consultation also proposes to have a consistent speed of 2.5 seconds as the minimum on both online and traditional slots. This is to stop the high-speed features that drain players’ money playing slots.
It also proposes a permanent prohibition of reverse withdrawals, which enables players to cancel withdrawal requests, and then end up using the funds to play slots again. It is the reasoning of the Commission that such practices only fuel problem gambling among players.
In addition, it proposes a clear, permanent screen display of the time and money spent by a player on each slot being played. With time and money spent visibly displayed on the screen, players would be more aware of how much they lose in terms of money and time.
The consultation will lead to a ban on software that congratulates players for winning amounts below their total wager, otherwise known as “losses disguised as winnings”. It said such software deceive most players into believing they are winning when actually they are losing. With the ban, players would be more aware when they are losing more than 100 GBP or even winning less than their total wager.
Furthermore, the consultation will place a limit to how many slots a player can access at a time using the same account. It maintains that upon implementation, a player can play only one slot at a time on a particular account. Thus, it will introduce software that would link different browser, browser tabs, or mobile applications to the same person.
The consultation will be thrown open for more proposals from industry leaders, key experts, as well as problem gambling organizations in curbing problem gambling all through the United Kingdom.
The Commission’s step is a bold one to keep the sanity that once reigned supreme in the gambling landscape. It is quite laudable that the Commission still delivers on its mandate to protect the interests of consumers before any other thing. In essence, we only expect an efficient stream of restrictions from the regulatory body.