An assessment of the impact of the Gambling Commission’s online game changes for slots products indicates that it has resulted in reduced play intensity and that it has not resulted in harmful unintended consequences.
The online game changes were introduced in October 2021 to strengthen the protections and controls for those who gamble on online slots games. The Commission focused on online slots because of features which increased the intensity of play and the corresponding risks to players.
The changes that were introduced included a limit on the speed of spins, a prohibition on features that speed up play or give an illusion of control over the outcome, a ban on autoplay and a ban on sounds or imagery which give the illusion of a win when the return is equal to, or below, a stake. It also placed a requirement on operators to clearly display to the player their total losses or wins and time played during any online slots session.
When monitoring gambling behaviours and attitudes after the changes were introduced, the UKGC found:
- some evidence of reduced play intensity on online slots products since the changes were introduced
- no increase in staking activity in response to the limit on spin speeds
- no evidence of a significant, negative impact on the enjoyment of gamblers.
The report shows that despite a cap on the maximum spin speed, the proportion of stakes at the highest values decreased in the months following the changes and the proportion of sessions lasting more than an hour also decreased. As a whole, general engagement with slots increased over the same time period.
Additionally, survey responses found that reported gambling on multiple games or tabs simultaneously decreased and did not detect any harmful unintended consequences.
Key sources used to inform the report were the Commission’s Online Tracker survey, which collects data quarterly from a nationally representative sample of approximately 2000 adults aged 18+ in Great Britain, and 1000 responses from adults aged 16+ as part of the quarterly Telephone Survey.
Tim Miller, Director for Policy and Research, said: “Our assessment of the changes to online slots games has shown indications of reduced play intensity with no significant negative impacts on play or behaviours.
“That’s positive, but we aren’t complacent and will continue to monitor this specific part of the sector for both any unintended circumstances, or non-compliance.”