July 21, 2020
The UK Gambling Commission is looking into the possibility of altering the game mechanics of online slot machines. Last week, the regulator launched a public consultation designed to gauge whether slots need a significant overhaul to help protect players from gambling harm.
According to the GC data, some 1.2% of British adults are spending too much on gambling. People who spend more, in particular, tend to use specific slot features. In turn, this means that the features pose a high-risk to people experiencing gambling harm.
The UKGC explained that speed of play and frequency of betting opportunities, along with other factors, determined whether an individual is at risk of becoming a compulsive gamer. The recent move is a response to a previously failed attempt to introduce changes to the redesign of slot machines.
After the UKGC previously appointed Playtech and Scientific Games, it is now stepping up the efforts. According to the Gambling Commission, the companies have not been able to meet the objectives.
Those objectives included limiting some features or removing them completely. For example, turbo or slam stops features are undesirable, the Commission says. Another thing the workgroup had to do was to implement a minimum game cycle.
Regulators also suggested that split-screen games should be removed. In explaining the reasons behind these decisions, the UKGC simply said that it was committed to going further in reducing gambling harms.
Some industry bodies have responded that the UKGC is looking to restrict too much of the industry without justifying the decision. As it were, the number of people experiencing gambling harm was too low to explain the abrupt decisions that would have a deep economic impact on the industry.
However, the UKGC will not ignore any suggestion, including the report by Playtech and Scientific Games. The regulator will combine recommendations with proposals from all licensees, receiving input from the industry and companies who may suffer as a result of the changes.
One of the suggested changes is to introduce amendments to the definitions of online slots. The industry wants to change the remote gambling and software technical standards (RTS).
Specifically, the Advisory Board for Safer Gambling (ABSG) wants to restrict players to only being able to play one game. Some consumers who stream their online casino gaming sessions usually have a split screen, burning through huge sums of money with the help of a split screen and the auto-play feature.
A minimum speed of 2.5 seconds should also feature in games, regulators believe. That allows players to still enjoy the game but slow down the overall pace of gaming. The move, regulators hope, would reduce gambling harm.
The Commission is also discussing how control would be enforced. According to the regulator, an independent testing house can determine whether the slots comply with the measures.
If there are discrepancies, the testing house can just restrict the specific title. Or, they can restrict the entire portfolio of the company in question.
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