Neil McArthur

UKGC bans online slots’ autoplay and quickspin features

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has announced a ‘package of strict measures’ to be enforced as new protections and controls on online slots games.

The decision follows feedback from its public consultation carried out in July 2020 around ‘making online games safer by design’ – in which the Commission reviewed the risk and intensive play elements of online slots.

Following widespread feedback, the UKGC highlighted that new controls are required to limit ‘spin speeds’, while a permanent ban will be introduced on features that ‘speed up play or celebrate losses as wins’.

From 31 October, the UKGC stated that licensed online gambling operators must remove all slot game technical components or features that relate to:

  • Making slot spins faster than 2.5 seconds
  • Autoplay – as players can lost track of their play
  • Quickspin  functionalities
  • Gameplay sounds or imagery which give the illusion of a win when the return is in fact equal to, or below, a stake

The Commission underlined that the removal of autoplay and quickspin features were a necessary requirement as slot games carried ‘by far the highest average losses per player of any online gambling product’.

Furthermore, all operators must display slot players their ‘total losses or wins and time played during any online game session’.

Beyond gameplay changes, the Commission will enforce a permanent ban on ‘reverse withdrawals‘ – a function which allows players to re-gamble money they had previously requested to withdraw.

Neil McArthur, Chief Executive of the UKGC, said that the regulator had taken drastic actions to remove all intensify play features from slots, after the evidence pointed to higher risks associated with ‘loss of player control or binge play’.

“To make online games safer we are introducing a ban on features that speed up play or give the illusion of control over the outcome,” he said. “We are also introducing a ban on autoplay, losses disguised as wins, and slot spin speeds faster than 2.5 seconds. The evidence shows that these features increase the risk of harm to customers.

“This is another important step in making gambling safer and where the evidence shows that there are other opportunities to do that we are determined to take them.”

Overseeing the UK’s gambling laws, the DCMS has approved the Commission’s new controls on online slots as a part of its regulatory duty to maintain a ‘comprehensive programme to make gambling fairer and safe’.

DCMS praised the UKGC’s ongoing actions to reform the online gambling industry, with the new controls on online slots following its ‘stamp out of irresponsible VIP customer practices’ sanctioned last October.

“Today’s steps will help curb the intensity of online gambling, introducing greater protections that will reduce the risk of gambling-related harm,” said DCMS sports minister Nigel Huddleston.

“I welcome the Gambling Commission’s tough measures as we continue our comprehensive review of gambling laws to make sure they’re fit for the digital age.”

The UKGC ended its statement by warning online operators that its actions on slots will be followed by its impending judgement on improving further customer interactions’ beyond player verification and ID requirements.

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