Following a consultation launched in July 2020, the Gambling Commission has announced a series of strict measures to make casino games safer for consumers. The restrictions will come into force on 31 October 2021 and will be implemented by revisions to the Commission’s remote technical standards (RTS). Game designers, software developers and operators therefore have nine months to prepare for these changes.

The Commission has focussed its attention on online slots, as these are the games most associated with high intensity of play and high risk to consumers. On average, GB slots players spend (lose) £67.00 per month, compared to £45.00 for those betting and £36.00 for those playing other casino products.

The revised RTS will define “slots” for the first time as “casino games of a reel-based type”, which includes games that have a non-traditional reel. The revised RTS will impose restrictions on slots games, including:

  •  The ability to play multiple slots games at the same time (e.g. split screen or multi-screen) will be restricted.
  • There must be a minimum of 2.5 seconds between the start of one game cycle and the next.
  • There will be a restriction on auto play functionality (action must be taken to depress a start button to commence a game).
  • Turbo, quick-spin, slam stop and other functionalities to shorten a result outcome are prohibited.
  • Winnings of less than or equal to the amount staked cannot be celebrated by sound or visual effects (a “false” win).

In addition, the following measures will be introduced to protect consumers:

  • All gaming sessions must display a customer’s net financial position (winnings minus losses) since that gaming session started.
  • Elapsed time of the gaming session must be displayed in seconds, minutes and hours.
  • Customers must not be given an option to cancel a withdrawal request.
  • The withdrawal process must be made as frictionless as possible.

These new measures give operators and game designers approximately nine months to modify games and websites to comply with the new technical standards by October 2021.

The Commission has concentrated its attention on the most high-risk gambling activity, which is online slots machines. Whilst there will be plenty of commentators saying this does not go far enough and that more far-reaching restrictions are required to reign in the excesses of online gambling, it makes sense to focus practical measures on high-risk games.

Further measures must be expected, as the Government proceeds with its review of the Gambling Act 2005, but only time will tell if a root and branch overhaul of gambling legislation will take place. Many argue that the current legislation contains effective measures, such as the amendments to online casino games, that can be introduced through licence conditions or revisions to game design.

However, it’s possible that slowing down gameplay will just lead to more time spent online, with problem gamblers spending more time actively gambling away the same amount of loss. Time will tell whether these restrictions improve the picture or whether stricter measures are necessary, such as imposing mandatory loss and deposit limits for high-risk casino customers.

If you would like to discuss the new measures introduced by the Gambling Commission and how they will impact your business, please contact Richard Williams.

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This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.