New Online Slot Game Stake Limits

Mixed Response to New Online Slot Game Stake Limits

There has been a mixed response to new online slot game stakes limits…September will see new stake limits being introduced for online slot games. Those aged under 25 will be unable to stake more than £2 on one spin of the reels. For those aged 25 or over, the new stake limit will be £5.

While many have welcomed the new restrictions, others haven’t been so delighted with the plans of the UK Government.

When the Conservatives were seeking election in 1999, their manifesto included a pledge to reform UK gambling laws. The last major legislation was in 2005 but is considered to be outdated now. That’s due to the many changes that have taken place since the introduction of online gambling.

It’s been a long wait for the Government to give details of the planned changes. Last year finally saw the publication of a White Paper that included several new regulations. After further consultation, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) have now announced the changes in online slot game stake limits.

The DCMS believe that the changes are needed as it is possible for online players to make “life changing losses” on slot games.

This follows the introduction of stake limits for fixed-odds betting terminals seen in High Street betting shops. Five years ago, the maximum stake was reduced from £100 to just £2. That move led to many gambling companies having to make redundancies, change policies towards casino bonuses and close some shops, said BritishGambler experts, online gambling guide in the UK.

There are estimates that the introduction of lower stake limits could produce a fall of £166.2 million for online slot games.

The DCMS have described these new stake limits as a “landmark moment” when it comes to regulating online sites.

There have been many fears about younger gamblers being at risk of gambling harm. Research has shown that those aged under 25 have the highest average figure for gambling problems of all age groups surveyed. Online slot games are seen as presenting a big danger of gambling harm, hence these new stake limits.

Other evidence shows a disturbing link between young players suffering gambling harm and then taking their lives.

A ten-week consultation period took place before the changes were announced. This received 98 responses from those in the gambling industry and treatment providers. The DCMS say that 60% of respondents favoured a stake limit of £2 for those aged 18-24.

Gambling Minister Stuart Andrew accepts that “millions of people gamble safely every single day.” However, there is evidence that there is a “significantly higher problem gambling rate for online slot games” especially for younger players.

Zoe Osmond is the chief executive of GambleAware who helps those with gambling problems. The chief executive said that they welcome the news but will “collaborate with the government and others across the gambling harms sector to ensure there are no missed opportunities” when trying to deal with the problem of gambling harm. One of those “missed opportunities” is only introducing a £5 stake limit for older players.

Charles Ritchie is the co-founder of Gambling with Lives. It was founded after his son took his own life after running into problems with his gambling. While he sees the reduced stake limit as “a step in the right direction.” He also holds the view that slot games as being “highly addictive” and would have liked a lower stake limit imposed on older players.

Mr Ritchie believes that reducing the stake limits “will offer some reduction in harm.” He also called for much slower spin speeds, more public health information about the dangers of gambling and affordability checks on gamblers.

While the stake limits being reduced is a good idea, he feels that online slot games are so addictive and will remain so unless further action is taken.

Affordability checks are likely to be introduced in the future. There are concerns though that their introduction could see gamblers heading in the direction of unlicensed gambling sites. That’s a dangerous move to take as they are unregulated and that means considerably lower customer protection being available.

The changes will be introduced in September of this year or will they? It’s possible that a General Election may take place before then. If that is the case then the current expected result is Labour taking over in Downing Street. Their policies on gambling reform could be different from those of the Conservatives and see the changes delayed.

With the prospect of the new stake limits and other new regulations occurring, it could be a worrying time for the UK gambling industry.

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