Following a public consultation, the UK Gambling Commission has announced a package of changes which is intended to make online games safer by design, focussing on online slots games. Online operators will need to implement the enhanced protections by 31 October 2021.

Key date(s)

  • 2 October 2019 – At a CEO briefing, the UK Gambling Commission (the "UKGC") brought together industry CEOs and laid the foundations for trialling a more collaborative approach to improving player protections.
  • 9 July 2020 to 3 September 2020 – The UKGC ran a consultation on changes to the design of online slots games ("Online Slots"), specifically with regard to making them safer for consumers (the "Consultation").
  • 25 September 2020  – The Betting and Gaming Council unveiled a new code of conduct for the design of online games with the intention of improving player safety and tackling problem gambling.
  • 2 February 2021  – Following the Consultation, the UKGC announces a range of enhanced protections to be implemented in order to protect those who gamble through Online Slots (the "Enhanced Protections").
  • 31 October 2021  – The date which the Enhanced Protections need to be fully implemented.


  • Following the UKGC's more general announcement on 12 May 2020 relating to protecting consumers during the Covid-19 lockdown, it was noted that there was no evidence to suggest an increase in problem gaming. However, due to the physical Covid-19 restrictions, there was evidence to show an increase in the use of online gambling products, such as Online Slots, poker, casino gaming, and virtual sports.
  • The Consultation then took place between July and September 2020 which sought views on the UKGC's proposals to:
    • reduce the intensity of Online Slots;
    • improve the information available to consumers that play Online Slots; and
    • prohibit reverse withdrawals.
  • As a result, the UKGC made an announcement on 2 February 2021 revealing a package of stricter measures to apply to Online Slots which will need to be fully implemented by online operators by 31 October 2021.
  • The UKGC has particularly focused on Online Slots due to its features which increase the intensity of play and the corresponding risks to the players. It was reported by the UKGC that Online Slots have a significantly high average number of losses per player in comparison with other online gambling products. Online Slots are also one of the largest online gambling products as defined by 'Gross Gambling Yield', with a high average spend and therefore risk profile for consumers.

 What it hopes to achieve 

  • The new Enhanced Protections are part of the UKGC's wider programme to make gambling fairer and safer for consumers.
  • In particular, it is hoped that the measures announced will strengthen the protections and controls for those who gamble through Online Slots. For example, it will introduce limits on spin speeds and provide a permanent ban on features which speed up play or celebrates losses as wins.
  • Nigel Huddleston, the Minister for Sports, Tourism and Heritage has stated that the enhanced protections "...will help curb the intensity of online gambling, introducing greater protections that will reduce the risk of gambling related harm"

Who does it impact? 

  • All gambling operators who provide Online Slots will need to comply with the Enhanced Protection standards before 31 October 2021 to avoid enforcement action from the UKGC.
  • Consumer will be protected by way of the Enhanced Protections

Key points 

  1. A new definition for "Slots"
    • The UKGC noted that Online Slots are a type of casino product and are caught under the Gambling Act 2005.
    • As a result, a new definition for "Slots" is proposed within the Remote Technical Standards for software as "Casino games of a reel-based type (includes games that have non-traditional reels)", which is intended to increase the controls on such products.
  1. Banning Online Slots features
    • The following four features will be banned from Online Slots:
      • features that speed up play or give the illusion of control over the outcome;
      • slot spin speeds which are faster than 2.5 seconds between game cycles;
      • any autoplay feature (i.e. the player must commit to each game cycle individually); and
      • sounds or imagery which give the illusion of a win when the return is in fact equal to, or below, a stake.
  1. Multiple Online Slots functionality is not permitted
    • Operators will not be permitted to offer functionality designed to allow players to play multiple Online Slots at the same time.
    • This includes, but is not limited to, split screen or multi-screen functionality.
    • Additionally, combining multiple slots titles in a way which facilitates simultaneous play is also not permitted.
  1. Further Enhanced Protections
    • The Enhanced Protections will also place a range of other requirements on online operations, including:
      • Operators must clearly display to the player their total losses or wins and the time played during any Online Slots session.
      • A brief sound is needed to indicate the result of each game and transfer to the player's balance.
      • Players must not be given the option to cancel their withdrawal request.

Originally Published 31 October, 2021

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