Decision Made: UK Sets Online Slot Limits to Protect Young Gamblers

The UK government took a decisive step on Friday to reform the online gambling landscape by setting new stake limits for online slot games. Beginning in September, players aged 18-24 will be restricted to a maximum of £2 per spin, while those over 25 will have a limit of £5. This pioneering regulation aims to address the growing concerns around gambling harm and marks the first instance of such stake limits being introduced for online slots in the UK.

Consultation and Decision Making

After engaging in a 10-week consultation that solicited feedback from a broad spectrum of stakeholders, including industry experts, academics, and the public, the government concluded that there was widespread support for introducing statutory limits on online slots. “The decision to implement the staking limits follows a 10-week consultation period. During this, the government said most respondents agreed with the proposal to put in place new statutory limits for online slots to help reduce the risk of gambling harm,” the announcement detailed. To facilitate a smooth transition, operators are granted a six-week period to adapt to the general £5 limit, followed by an additional six weeks to ensure full compliance with the £2 limit for younger adults.

Gambling minister Stuart Andrew underscored the necessity of these measures, particularly highlighting the vulnerabilities of younger gamblers. “Although millions of people gamble safely every single day, the evidence shows that there is a significantly higher problem gambling rate for online slot games,” Andrew remarked. He further stressed the government’s commitment to safeguarding young adults from gambling-related harms, stating, “We also know that young adults can be more vulnerable when it comes to gambling related harms, which is why we committed to addressing both of these issues in our white paper.”

Support and Concerns

The initiative has received support from various corners, including GambleAware, an organization dedicated to preventing gambling harm. GambleAware CEO Zoë Osmond lauded the government’s action, especially for prioritizing the protection of younger adults. “We welcome the government’s announcement to introduce lower online stake limits for under-25s as an important mechanism to protect young people,” Osmond expressed. “Our research shows a concerning trend with this age group experiencing an increase in harm arising from gambling and online slots are very high-risk products.”

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), while supportive of the measures to reform stake limits, voiced concerns regarding the potential implications for the industry and its patrons. BGC CEO Michael Dugher emphasized the delicate balance that needs to be maintained to prevent customers from migrating to unregulated offshore markets. “We welcome the government’s decision on new stake limits for online slots games,” Dugher said. “They provide enhanced protections for young people. It is important to recognise that measures like this come with a cost to our members and impact their customers. Nothing in the white paper should be viewed in isolation, but instead seen as a total package.”

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