The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), the industry body that oversees many of the UK’s leading online casino operators, has announced a raft of changes that will significantly change the way that slot games are produced.
The Game Design Code of Conduct will implement a number of sweeping rule changes, including a complete ban on features designed for the ultra-acceleration of play – most notably turbo spins.
Under their new guidelines, all slot games will have a limit put in place of just one spin every 2.5 seconds, while a number of ‘simultaneous play’ features have also been modified with the aim of slowing down gameplay to help prevent problem gambling.
The BGC hopes that the new rules will be implemented by the end of October, and these are considered to be something of a pre-emptive strike ahead of the government’s planned review of the Gambling Act 2005 – with specific reference to online gaming.
Many expect reforms to come down rather harshly on all forms of online gambling, and the BGC must be hoping that their proactive changes will show a willingness to protect the welfare of players. The organisation’s chief executive, Michael Dugher, said it continued the firm’s ‘race to the top’ in terms of setting standards in the betting industry.
“The new Game Design Code of Conduct is yet another example of our determination to address concerns head on and meet our safer gambling commitments,” Dugher commented. “I’m sure that our members will embrace this approach and commit to its objective of improving player safety.
“And as we prepare for the forthcoming Gambling Review, it is further evidence of our industry’s commitment to improving standards – unlike the completely unregulated black market.”
The initial move to change how slot games are developed came back in September, when a UK Gambling Commission working group – featuring representatives from Playtech, Scientific Games and other leading slots software firms – met to discuss a raft of changes and safety measures.
Many of these have since been introduced, although the belief is that the Commission wanted more exacting protocol – including maximum stake and loss limits and a ban on auto-spins – to also be implemented.
Sweden Leads the Way in Slot Game Restrictions
Sweden, one of the most popular online gaming jurisdictions in Europe, has led the way as far as the exacting management of slot games is concerned.
They introduced a range of new measures earlier in 2020, and while that was ostensibly to tackle the threat of problem gambling during the coronavirus pandemic, the Swedish government has confirmed they will now remain in place for the rest of the year and, possibly, beyond that too.
All players in Sweden are subject to a limit on deposits of around £385 ($500) per week, while special promotions and bonuses are also limited to roughly £7.75 ($10) too.
Gamers will also be subject to strict time limits on how long they can play for – something that has drawn much anger from groups who want to protect civil liberties.
And the Swedish Gambling Authority believes the moves will push native gamers to join unlicensed or offshore betting sites – that would see crucial tax revenue exit the Scandinavian country.
“Many Swedes are already gambling on unlicensed websites and these restrictions will make unlicensed websites – which don’t apply any limits – even more attractive to them,” said Maarten Haijer of the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA).
Elsewhere Veikkaus, the state regulated gaming platform in Finland, has a government-imposed loss limit of €500 per month on some of its games – reduced from the €2,000 cap in place prior to May of this year.
In September, Spanish authorities announced a central gambling self-exclusion register via which players could lock themselves out of all betting platforms, while advertising of football clubs from gambling firms has all but been prohibited.