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Gambling Commission announces new online slot controls including autoplay ban

| By Robert Fletcher
The Great Britain Gambling Commission has announced a series of new rules for online slot games in an effort to strengthen both the protections and controls for players.
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The strict new measures, which will be introduced in response to a consultation that launched in July last year, will need to be implemented by all licensees by 31 October this year.

Among the new measures will be an outright ban on certain standard features of slot games, including autoplay options.

According to the Commission, research has shown that using an autoplay feature has been linked to some players losing track of play, making it difficult for some to stop playing. In some cases, players have used this to gamble on other activities simultaneously.

Meanwhile, slot games with spin speeds faster than 2.5 seconds will also be banned, while operators must also remove features that speed up play or give the illusion of control over the outcome.

Sounds or imagery that give the impression of a win when the return is in fact equal to, or below, a stake, will also be banned.

Other measures include a permanent ban on reverse withdrawals, a function that allows players to re-gamble money they had previously requested to withdraw from their account.

The Commission said evidence gathered during the consultation showed that reverse withdrawal functions present a risk to players because of the temptation to continue gambling.

In addition, operators will be required to clearly display to the player their total losses or wins and time played during any online slots session.

“This is another important step in making gambling safer and where the evidence shows that there are other opportunities to do that we are determined to take them,” Commission chief executive Neil McArthur said.

Minister for Sports, Tourism and Heritage Nigel Huddleston also welcomed the move. He said: “Today’s steps will help curb the intensity of online gambling, introducing greater protections that will reduce the risk of gambling related harm.

“I welcome the Gambling Commission’s tough measures as we continue our comprehensive review of gambling laws to make sure they’re fit for the digital age.”

Changes to slot game rules form part of the Commission’s ongoing efforts to help make gambling fairer and safer for players. This has also seen the introduction of strengthened protections around online age and ID verification, improved customer interaction practices, and the banning of gambling on credit cards.

In September last year, the Commission also announced it was to introduce new rules to stamp out irresponsible VIP customer practices. A consultation on customer interaction was also launched in November, with the outcome expected later this year.

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