The iGaming year 2020 started off with the UK Gambling Commission enacting a ban on the use of credit cards at online casinos, bookmakers and other betting sites. The main aim was to protect vulnerable British players from gambling on credit. The ban came into force on 14th April 2020 and seemed to have worked out well so far. However, there was no doubt that more was to be expected from the UKGC as they instantly launched more consultations into improving player protections.
An industry group was formed to examine what changes in game design and casino operations could find common approval among all stakeholders. By June 2020, the UKGC realized that the progress was too slow and the working group was not delivering sufficient proposals to address the core issues that have been under discussion for some time. Mandatory loss limits, maximum stakes, limits on gambling sessions and other ideas never materialized or reached an implementation stage.
As such, it came as no surprise when the UKGC announced on 9th July 2020 that they launched yet another consultation, this time on changes in game design and specifically focussing on AutoPlay and Quick/Turbo Spin functionalities
“We also know that speed of play, frequency of betting opportunities, as well as other factors on offer to players can increase addiction and risk of harm. The proposed changes outlined within this document will help to mitigate these risks for slots players. Our interest in online slots is because it is the largest online gambling product by Gross Gambling Yield (GGY) – played by relatively few but with a high average spend. Structurally it has a number of features which can combine to significantly increase intensity of play.”
Let’s take a closer look at what the UKGC is suggesting in the above quote. It is widely known that introducing longer spin periods reduces the adrenaline and dopamine rush and thus addiction capability of a slot. The Swedish Spelinspektionen did extensive research and mandated a 3-second interval between spins some time ago. Plus, B3 gambling machines in the UK have also a 2.5-second interval. Why the UKGC needs to regurgitate those findings is anyone’s guess.
Removing AutoPlay will have little to no effect on how much or how long we play. An addict will click 10,000 times in a session if he or she is on a high. The UKGC already mandated a maximum 100 auto-spins after earlier consultations and many game providers opted to remove it entirely from their game UIs.
As for disallowing Quick or Turbo Spin functionalities, there is sufficient doubt it will have enough impact on addicts to actually improve protections. The only valid reason could be that players will potentially lose their money faster and then deposit more, maybe money they cannot afford, to chase those losses. However, the options to spin faster usually reduce the visual win animations which are one of the main dopamine inducers in addicted gamblers.
The split-screens which allow up to four slots to be played simultaneously is, in my opinion, an area that should be indeed looked into. Hardly any recreational or responsible player will have four slots active at the same time.
Overall, the latest consultation missed the mark yet again as the points under discussion are rather superficial. Banning pending periods on withdrawals, disallowing reversals, combatting unlicensed online casinos from accepting UK players and other items should be part and parcel of such a consultation.
What are your thoughts? Join the discussion and leave your comments below.