After the UK Gambling Commission’s (UKGC) launch of its public consultation regarding online slot design back in July, it has adjourned this consultation last 3 September 2020, concluding its bid to gather insights and suggestions on how to regulate slot development and make games safer for its users.
Upon the launch of this consultation, the commission stated that it would review online slot game design and features that are centred around the speed of play and betting opportunity frequency. It has also made itself clear that it will review other design elements and factors that may negatively impact players or increase the risk of gambling harm.
The regulator has expressed its interest in reviewing online slots as it is the largest online gambling product based on gross gambling yields and that it is played by relatively few people but still has a high average spend. It also expressed that online gambling features must be looked in to with a keen eye as these games have several features that combine to significantly increase play intensity and duration. The regulator also highlighted that, as the overseer of the regulatory development of the UK’s gambling industry, there is a need for it to keep up with the variety of game design and trends as new comprehensive frameworks and changes must take place to make online gambling safer for its players.
The regulator also stated that operators will need to follow and implement additional restrictions to existing games if changes are accepted. This would mean that operators and partnered software providers will have to implement game redesigns or at the very least, game changes, to comply with the updated regulations. The regulator also pointed out that any game not compliant with the new regulations will not be made available to the public. It also stated that proposals around the design of slots games are just the first step in keeping players safe and that online slots is an area which has seen technological innovation in terms of product design and that operators are expected to continually show an equal, and indeed greater, commitment to innovate in terms of consumer protection
The finalized code will be published later this September. As it stands, the commission has proposed the following restrictions: the discontinuation of the quick spins or turbo feature play across all slot games; the removal of game features which may encourage intensive play such as slam stops and turbo buttons; prohibiting split-screen slots which have been associated with a potential loss of control; with many others awaiting review.
Earlier this year, the UKGC’s chief executive officer, Neil McArthur, published the commission’s 2020/2021 Business Plan. In this plan, the commission seeks to adopt improvements in prevention, education, and treatment and support resources developed alongside its partners. The business plan also confirms that the industry would be moving forward, adopting a new code for a game design featuring various compulsory safety features to be adopted by all licensed members. The plan also includes a competition to appoint the next National Lottery franchisee.