By EWN • 09 July 2021 • 14:34
The UK Gambling Commission is a body set up by the UK Government to regulate and monitor gambling in Great Britain. It was set up on 1st November 2005 after a report, commissioned by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), made recommendations about the regulation of all types of gambling in Great Britain.
In this article we’ll be examining the latest proposals by the UK Gambling Commission and how it may impact online slots in 2022.
What the UK gambling regulations for online slots look like in 2021
The end of 2021 will likely bring the UK the biggest changes to its online gambling regulation since 2005. The Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act was enacted on 26th March 2005 and has endured as a cornerstone of UK gambling legislation for over 15 years now.
With this in mind, one can see why there is such pressure to implement change sooner rather than later – particularly if it’s an alteration that could make things easier for operators operating from within the country.
To summarise the changes for both gamblers and online casino operators, online casinos will be stricter and more expensive to run.
How online slots will now operate for UK players
The proposal puts forth a number of regulations for improving online gambling regulation that specifically affect online slots, like those found in a £1 or $1 deposit casino, which are as follows:
According to the commission, online slots contribute to ‘by far the highest average losses per player of any online gambling product’. Therefore, it’s in the best interest of the UK Gambling Commission to focus on online slots in order to promote a healthy environment of fair and safe gambling.
Indeed, online slots are a source of problem gambling due to their gamified and addictive nature, as well as the speed at which players can play them. For this reason, the minimum spin speed of 2.5 seconds is necessary to slow down gamblers’ spending potential.
It’s unclear how the Betting and Gaming Council concluded that 2.5 seconds is the minimum acceptable speed for an online slot machine.
Perhaps they did extensive research with a large data sample and looked at mean spin times, perhaps the number is totally arbitrary and was plucked out of the air.
2.5 second spins limit players to four spins a minute or 240 spins an hour so perhaps their target was based on keeping the hourly rate of spins below 250.
Limiting the speed of online games is one way to combat problem gambling, and it’s sensible that modes designed to encourage longer and faster sessions like Autoplay and Quickspin should be banned. Each spin of the machine should be deliberate and not automated to encourage player responsibility.
Sound effects and animations designed to mislead players into thinking they’re on a roll are unethical and exploit gamblers’ senses. This one is more subjective than the others and may be difficult to enforce at scale.
Challenges outlined by the proposal
Increased technological developments including product and payment innovation.
The previous strategy wasn’t as well equipped to deal with innovations in online gambling brought by the mainstream adoption of consumer internet.
The proposal’s approach to this challenge is to hire more specialist staff for the Gambling Commission, and a new Chief Product Officer to lead them in navigating the new technological landscape.
As well as human resources, the proposal seeks to implement new tools and methods to improve the efficiency of measuring compliance to current and upcoming regulations, such as big data analytics.
The encroachment of global operators into the UK gambling market
As well as hiring more technical staff, the proposal seeks the hiring of compliance experts in order to enforce international regulations as a whole, rather than just the UK’s, working in tandem with other compliance officers across the globe.
It’s likely the targets of this challenge are gambling operators that attempt to obfuscate their presence and legal status with complex networks of shell and umbrella companies. The new compliance officers will be trained and equipped to detect and punish these types of entities with suspiciously complex structures.
Combating unlicensed operators and the black market
Challenge three’s solution again involves expanding manpower to combat illegal gambling, as well as seeking increased legal powers for prosecuting offenders directly.
This will increase the agility of the Commission to identify and fight online gambling criminals without needing the direct assistance of the police or justice system in general, that is less specialised for dealing with this type of crime.
Online gambling in 2021 is riskier than ever with the growing mainstreaming adoption of crypto gambling, due to the ease of hiding the proceeds of the crime if they’re crypto rather than fiat.
It requires more specialist knowledge that includes cryptography and computer science in order to follow the blockchain trail, especially if the proceeds are laundered via anonymous coins like Monero.
The future of online slots in the UK – what might they look like in 2022?
It almost goes without saying that with each gambling act review the regulations get stricter and stricter and not the other way round.
It’s in the best interests of everyone, from the holding operators to the gamblers themselves, that casino features that encourage problem gamblers are restricted.
Vulnerable people will be given more consumer protection and less likely to spend all their money at once, contributing to a healthier gambling ecosystem.
Let’s take a look at what we think the UK’s online slot games will look like in 2022 with the enforcements of these new rules on game design and how they will impact casino gameplay and combat gambling harm.
Changes to UKGC Slots 2022 will bring
We’ve already covered the changes regarding spin times, autoplay, quickplay, and misleading animations above but there are still other new regulations that will affect the online gambling experience as a whole.
Some of the regulations are pending promulgation and haven’t been set it stone yet but we think it’s still necessary to consider how they may affect the gambling landscape in the future.
Let’s speculate on what we think the online gambling experience will look like as a whole for the UK in 2022.
Changes to game speeds and aesthetics
This one is covered above in more detail but overall, it suffices to say that the UK’s online slot machine experience will be slower and duller than before. Which may mean that players would have to take advantage of the best casino bonus on offer at online slots to make the experience more worthwhile.
For many gamblers, however, there are only upsides to this conclusion; limiting gambling speeds is beneficial for everyone and reducing the opportunity for deception via sensory overload is both ethical and healthy to stop the exploitation of vulnerable people.
The other change to the online gambling industry in general is the ban of ‘reverse withdrawals’, a feature that allows players to cancel their withdrawal request and continue gambling their winnings. This is, of course, another necessary regulation to combat binge gambling.
The effect this will have on 2022 will hopefully be shorter gambling sessions that result in more players exiting after receiving their winnings.
The latest gambling act review brought more discussion about how online gambling operators can encourage healthier playstyles with their customer interactions.
Beyond the minimum requirements of KYC, there’s currently no law at present that makes any further customer interactions mandatory. It’s not set in stone yet but there’s been talk of pushing a mandate for casino operators to actively discourage unhealthy gambling via staff interventions.
2022’s online gambling experience will be more interactive and involve a greater need for customer support to fulfill the requirements of human interaction required for the slots safeguarding regulations.
It’s not clear yet whether support staff will need to proactively reach out and message players that they think may need help or simply respond to those that seek it. If the former is the case, then expect a list of criteria necessary for a player to meet in order to trigger a ‘red flag’ and require human intervention.
Perhaps these criteria could include continuous or total playtime in a given period as well as money spent.
Conclusion: Will the latest updates in UK gambling regulation impact online gambling and the gambling industry as a whole?
The short answer to the question of whether the latest UK gambling industry change will impact online slots or not is yes.
The experience will be slower and more muted and it’s doubtful that we’ll ever see a return of the manipulative sensory overloads of slot machines in the past.
Of course, casino operators will seek loopholes to circumvent the new restrictions and may be successful for short periods of time.
As always, it’s a cat and mouse game between regulators tightening the screws, and operators attempting to run around them while still playing by the rules.
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