The key players in the UK gambling sector are waiting with much anticipation and perhaps anxiety as to the results of the government’s Gambling Act review.
There are whispers of all manner of things that are being considered as techniques for improving player welfare and tackling problem gambling, and both affordability checks and loss limits are thought to be on the table.
Affordability checks will cut some problem gambling behaviours off at their source. Casino gamers would – should such a system be introduced – have to prove that they can afford to lose a certain amount of money per month. So, if the limit was £100, the individual would need to show via payslips, bank statements and the like that any loss would be manageable to them.
These checks bring with them all manner of questions about data protection and privacy, however – should an online casino or betting site be allowed to request such information? And would it be stored somewhere….and potentially subject to hacking?
Loss limits are another way that authorities can manage the budget of players on their behalf, and these are becoming more commonly used across the globe. Some regulators have introduced these on a temporary basis, but for others they are expected to be a permanent addition to their legal framework.
Take Finland, for example. Gambling in the Nordic region is managed by a central regulator, Veikkaus, who have the autonomy to introduce rules that they believe will improve the welfare of their players.
Introduced a number of years ago, Veikkaus implemented a €1,000 daily loss limit on games that they describe as ‘fast paced’ online gambling (think slots and other casino similar casino games). However, in the spring of 2020 this was reduced to a €500 loss each day and €2,000 in a single month, and the regulator has extended that ruling indefinitely.
Indeed, it is believed that the Ministry of the Interior in Finland is considering a permanent decrease in the maximum limits, and that comes in addition to the self-imposed limits that all players must implement – those cannot be higher than the state-imposed maximums.
Scandinavia Leading the Way
Amazingly, Finland is kind of out there on their own as a country that imposes mandatory loss limits on their players.
Many other leading gambling jurisdictions, from the UK and the USA to Australia and parts of mainland Europe, allow casino gamers to implement their own voluntary loss limits, be it daily or monthly, with no regulatory diktat in place that mandates betting brands to use such restrictions.
Scandinavia stands out as one region that has actively sought loss limits in casino Gaming. In Sweden, there was a temporary measure introduced that saw monthly deposit limits imposed of around £420, with bonuses capped at the equivalent of £10. Initiated in July 2020, they have since been extended – November 2021 has been mooted as a potential time for review.
In December, the Norwegian regulator Norsk Tipping reduced its maximum monthly loss limit by 25% and its daily limit by 50%. That means that players in Norway can lose up to 2,000 NOK (around £170) per day and 7,500 NOK (around £630) per month, while it has become prohibited for operators to send marketing emails to those aged 18-25. Again, these are temporary measures, although no end date has been given.
And Danish regulators were on the case as early as January 2020. While they haven’t imposed mandatory loss limits on casino players, it has been written in law that gamers must set their own daily, weekly and monthly deposit limits before they are allowed to play.
In Germany, online slot gaming has only been legalised for the first time in 2021, but already authorities have moved to impose certain restrictions. Those include a €1 stake limit per spin, a monthly staking limit of €1,000 (this can be raised to €10,000 on application) and a loss limit of no more than 20% of spending.
In Spain, a proposed change to the legislation is that all online casino gamers will have to set their own spend and time limits per session – these cannot later be altered.
|Denmark||Self imposed daily, weekly and monthly limits||Permanent|
|Finland||Daily (€500) and monthly (€2,000) limits||Temporary|
|Germany||€1 stake limit per spin, monthly stake limit of €1,000||Permanent|
|Norway||Daily (£170) and monthly (£630) loss limits||Temporary|
|Spain||Proposed set time and spend limits||In Discussion|
|Sweden||Monthly deposit limit (£420)||Temporary|
Could the UK Follow Suit?
We await the conclusion of the UK government’s review of the Gambling Act with interest.
They have made some moves to restrict gamblers in recent years, with the reduction in maximum stake to £2 on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals something of a watershed moment for the UK betting industry.
It has been suggested in reports online that the UK Gambling Commission HAS considered imposing monthly loss limits for online casino gaming, however nothing on that has come to fruition.
Interestingly, some brands have grasped the nettle independently. Videoslots.com was one of the first to impose mandatory loss limits – their players have to commit to setting their own monthly loss limit before they can enjoy a single spin of the reels or roulette wheel.
And the Commission has imposed some restrictions aimed at ensuring players retain control of their gaming. The speed of slot games has been slowed to ensure there is more thinking time before each turn, with features that speed up gameplay banned. The celebration of wins – which are actually financial losses compared to the stake played – has also been outlawed.
That is a nod to the restrictions that Norsk Tipping have implemented, with mandatory breaks in play enforced after an hour’s play.