Editor’s note: since the publication of this article, it has come to our understanding that these new rules have been imposed by the industry association for betting and gaming, and not the UKGC.
2020 has been a busy year for the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). Consultations for changes to slot gaming have been underway since July, and it seems several new rules are on their way, some already implemented. The UKGC’s goal is to make online games safer for UK players, but many are questioning how effective these measures will be.
The infamous removal of bonus buys was met with an overwhelmingly negative reaction from many British gamblers. It seems like that was just an opening salvo as these new changes are coming up against similar resistance. The core conflict is the tightrope walk between personal freedoms and what the rules will accomplish.
The Proposed Guidelines
One thing is certain, the measures will have a direct effect on players’ gaming experience. Outsiders might consider them small, but they will have a significant impact and include:
- Removal of Quickspin and Turbo Mode.
- Removing Spin Stop and Slam Stop.
- A minimum Spin Speed of 2.5 Seconds.
- Prohibiting Multiple Gameplay on a Single Gaming Client.
UK punters might be baulking, but spare a thought for Swedish gamblers who already experience a 3-second spin delay, or German players who are preparing for even worse. The thinking at the Commission is auto spins give an ‘illusion of control’ and claim this leads to gambling-related harm. They also concluded that players physically starting each game will decrease problem gambling. The same thinking extends to multi-screen use, though there is no mention of stopping simultaneous gaming at different casinos– yet.
Message boards are already lighting up with observations of some providers implementing the changes. The rest are expected to follow suit soon. One criticism is that these measures will accomplish little more than ruin games. That it’s all overkill and will cause more harm than good. For now, nothing is stopping UK players from sidestepping regulated operators who enforce the new rules – opening up a whole different can of worms.
Regulation driving players offshore
If you can’t play the way you want at a regulated casino, what options are there? For a growing number of people, avoiding what they see as draconian curbs on their freedom means patronising offshore, unregulated casinos. Clearly, this can lead to new problems. If you win big there, are you going to get your money? What sort of responsible gambling tools can you expect to find? While some unregulated casinos are legit operations, others are cowboys in the new Wild West where anything goes.
Freedoms toppling like dominoes?
As one astute commentator said: “imagine going into a fast-food restaurant and being told to take sips of soda every 30 seconds in an effort to combat obesity.” Problem gambling is a serious matter, and protecting players is a primary concern. However, many involved in the industry question whether the new measures will ease or exacerbate the situation. Besides, regulated casinos already have a full range of responsible gambling tools in place.
For many there is an even bigger issue at stake here – what happened to personal freedom? Time will tell if these guidelines are simply knee-jerk box-ticking reactions that will create bigger problems.