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UK Government Implements Drastic Reforms: Maximum Stakes on Slots Set at £2

According to The Guardian, the UK government is set to announce significant changes on Friday, with the maximum stake on online slots limited to £2 per spin for individuals under the age of 25, and £5 per spin for those aged 25 and above.

Presently, there are no legal restrictions on the maximum stake for online slots in the UK, although some operators, including Flutter, have voluntarily implemented slot limits of £10 starting from September 2021.

This new rule represents one of the most drastic options being considered by the government as part of its efforts to tighten regulatory controls within the online gambling industry. Potential maximum stakes ranging from £2 to £15 were under discussion.

White Paper

In April 2023, a white paper was published, outlining proposals for future legislation. The paper estimated that setting a middle-range maximum stake of £8.50 would result in a £185 million financial impact on the industry.

This white paper marked the first proposed regulatory reforms in the sector since 2005 and recommended that new limits should be set towards the lower end of the scale, particularly for the “vulnerable” demographic of 18 to 24-year-olds.

Labour MP Carolyn Harris, chair of the All-Party Committee on Gambling Related Harm, welcomed the move but expressed her belief that it did not go far enough.

“I am pleased that the government has chosen a £2 limit for individuals under 25,” Harris stated. “However, there is compelling evidence that a £2 limit should be implemented for everyone to prevent harm. The government has sided with the industry and ought to reconsider.”

In the previous year, online casinos accounted for £4 billion of the UK gambling industry’s total revenue of £11 billion. Of that amount, slightly over a third, approximately £3.2 billion, was generated by online slots.

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Affordability Checks

The white paper also suggested the introduction of affordability checks. Operators would be required to evaluate a customer’s “financial vulnerability” by considering data from credit reports, court records (including judgments and bankruptcies), and postcode statistics.

Additionally, loss thresholds are being considered. These thresholds might be triggered when a player loses £1,000 net within 24 hours or £2,000 within 90 days.

Operators will also be obligated to pay a “statutory levy,” which will be allocated to funding programs and research aimed at addressing problem gambling. This levy is in addition to the taxes and voluntary contributions that operators already make.

The UK liberalized its gambling industry in 2005, creating an environment conducive to the growth and innovation of online gambling operators. However, concerns regarding problem gambling have led to significant criticism, prompting lawmakers to call for stricter controls.

Critics of tighter regulations argue that such measures drive vulnerable players toward the black market, where affordability checks, stake limits, and contributions to problem gambling programs are nonexistent.