The Gambling Commission has unveiled a raft of regulations and controls for online slots.
The Gambling Commission has unveiled a raft of regulations and controls for online slots. Announced on Monday, the ‘package of strict measures’ will ban features such as auto-play, slot spin speeds and in-game elements that celebrate losses as wins. The decision was made following a public consultation regarding the risk and safety of online casino games Licensed operators have until October 31 to comply.
The following features are to be prohibited:
According to leading researcher Professor Mark Griffiths, faster slot game speeds make it difficult for consumers, especially those with gambling problems to stop playing, while also encouraging them to stake more money.
So functions that affect spin speed such as ‘turbo mode’ and ‘quick-spin’ have been outlawed due to their impact on variable ratio scheduling – a psychological characteristic present in all slot games in which a win is awarded but on an inconsistent, unpredictable basis.
Because of this unpredictability, the participant is compelled to continue playing the game in the hope of receiving a pay-out. Based on Governmental studies, slot spin speed exacerbates VRS by restricting the time players have to weigh up the risks and consequences of staking more money in the pursuit of a win.
Illusion of Control is another key area that’s been close scrutinized by the Gambling Commission. Many current online slots include features such as ‘slam stop’ that allow players to stop the reels in the erroneous belief that doing so will improve their chances of winning. As of October 31 features like this will no longer be permitted.
Auto-play has been banned primarily because it allows players to gamble on multiple games simultaneously. 42% of respondents petitioned by the Gambling Commission reported that auto-play caused them to lose track of their spending. One third of these suggested auto-play made it difficult for them to stop gambling. Expenditure and speed of play were also reported by respondents as being potential problems. The new rules mean that players will now have to physically initiate each spin.
Developers are no longer allowed to include audible or visual ‘celebratory effects’ within games to indicate ‘wins’ that are less or equal to a ‘true win’. As stated by the Gambling Commission findings, the false win illusion makes it difficult for players to keep track of their expenditure. Past Government studies have also suggested that LDWs encourages participants to keep playing despite ongoing losses.
In addition to the new slot game regulations, a blanket ban is to be imposed on reverse withdrawals. As of result, withdrawal requests cannot be cancelled once the instruction has been placed. Operators are also required to display player losses, total wins and time played during every online gaming session.
The Gambling Commission’s findings were based on eleven academic studies as well as industry and consumer data. Further input was provided by the Advisory Board on Safer Gambling and the Digital Advisory Panel.
Journal of Gambling Studies – The Effect of Losses Disguised as Near Wins: A Systemic Review
Gambling Commission – Gambling Commission – Online Games Design and Reverse Withdrawals