UK Set to Announce £2 Maximum Stake on Online Slots

online-slots

In a significant reform move, the UK government is poised to unveil a new regulation setting the maximum stake on online slots at £2 per spin for individuals under the age of 25, and £5 per spin for those aged 25 and above, as reported by The Guardian.

Currently, there exists no legally mandated maximum stake for online slots for players in the UK. However, certain operators, such as Flutter, have voluntarily imposed slot limits of £10 starting from September 2021.

This new regulation stands as one of the most drastic options among those considered by the government in its efforts to enhance regulatory oversight over the online gambling industry. Various stake limits ranging from £2 to £15 were under deliberation.

White Paper Overview

Outlined in a white paper released in April 2023, which presented proposals for forthcoming legislation, it was estimated that implementing a mid-range maximum stake of £8.50 would result in a financial impact of £185 million on the industry.

This white paper marked the first set of proposed regulatory reforms in the sector since 2005 and recommended that new limits should lean towards the lower end of the spectrum, especially for the vulnerable demographic aged 18 to 24.

Labour MP Carolyn Harris, chair of the All-Party Committee on Gambling Related Harm, expressed appreciation for the move but indicated that it falls short of the necessary measures.

“While I welcome the government’s decision to enforce a £2 limit for individuals under 25,” said Harris, “there is substantial evidence suggesting that a £2 limit should apply universally to prevent harm. The government has favored the industry and should reconsider its stance.”

Online casinos contributed £4 billion to the £11 billion revenue of the UK gambling industry last year, with over a third, approximately £3.2 billion, generated by online slots alone.

Implementation of Affordability Checks

The white paper also proposed the introduction of affordability checks, where operators would be mandated to evaluate a customer’s “financial vulnerability” based on data obtained from credit reports, court records including judgments and bankruptcies, and postcode statistics.

Additionally, loss thresholds are being considered, which could trigger when a player experiences a net loss of £1,000 within 24 hours or £2,000 within 90 days.

Operators will also be obligated to contribute to a “statutory levy,” aimed at funding programs and research related to problem gambling, in addition to existing taxes and voluntary payments.

The UK’s liberalization of its gambling industry in 2005 fostered an environment conducive to the growth and innovation of online gambling operators. However, concerns over problem gambling have led to significant pushback, prompting calls from lawmakers for tighter regulations.

Critics of stricter regulation argue that it may drive vulnerable players towards the black market, where there are no affordability checks, stake caps, or contributions to problem gambling initiatives.

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