Richard Williams: “It’s possible that slowing down gameplay will just lead to more time spent online”

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Richard Williams: “It’s possible that slowing down gameplay will just lead to more time spent online”

The latest decision from the Gambling Commission to introduce new safety measures for online slots has dominated industry headlines since it was announced on 2 February, with the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) welcoming the move shortly after.

The new measures include an outright ban on auto-play, slot spin speeds faster than 2.5 seconds, features that speed up play and sounds or imagery that give the illusion of a win when the return is equal to or below a stake. All licensed operators in Great Britain must adhere to the changes, which will come into force on 31 October 2021.

Gambling expert and partner at Keystone Law Richard Williams sent quotes to Gambling Insider about what the new measures mean for operators and the industry at large. 

“These new measures give operators and game designers plenty of time to modify games and websites to comply with the new technical standards by October 2021,” explained Williams.

“The Commission has concentrated its attention on the most high-risk gambling activity, which is online slot machines. Whilst there will be plenty of commentators saying this does not go far enough and that more far-reaching restrictions are required to reign in the excesses of online gambling, it makes sense to focus practical measures on high-risk games.

“Further measures must be expected, as the Government proceeds with its review of the Gambling Act 2005, but as many lawyers have been arguing all along, we do not need a root and branch overhaul of gambling legislation, as effective measures such as this can be introduced through licence conditions or revisions to game design.”

The Commission highlighted online slots as a key area for change due to the intensity of play, adding that slot games have by far the highest average losses per player of online gambling products. 

On average, GB slots players lose £67 ($91) per month, compared to £45 for betting and £36 for other casino products.

“It’s possible that slowing down gameplay will just lead to more time spent online, with problem gamblers spending more time actively gambling away the same amount of loss,” added Williams.

“Time will tell whether these restrictions improve the picture or whether more draconian measures are necessary, such as imposing mandatory loss and deposit limits for high-risk casino customers.”

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