Poker news | Apr 26, 2021
Will UK Slots Downgrades Give Online Poker a Boost?
By RTR Dennis
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has introduced new rule changes that are meant to reduce problem gaming.
These rules are aimed at online slots. First, developers will need to program internet slots to maintain at least 2.5 seconds in between spins. The fastest that a mobile slot can go under these new circumstances is 24 spins per minute (60/2.5).
Secondly, the autoplay feature will be no longer be available in any UK-facing online slot. Autoplay allows players to keep reels spinning automatically with no effort on their parts.
Developers won’t be allowed to feature exciting sound effects after losing spins either. Before, they would program games to deliver triumphant sounds following losses disguised as wins (e.g. £0.50 payout on £1 spin).
Finally, online casinos will need to track and display gamblers’ wins and losses during a session. This tracker will ensure that each player knows exactly how they’re performing.
The new rules won’t take effect immediately. However, all operators will need to have them put in place by Oct. 31, 2021.
What Sparked These Rule Changes?
The UKGC began studying players’ habits during the pandemic, amid lockdowns. They discovered that the average gambler lost £67 per month on mobile slots, versus £45 for online sports betting and £36 for all other internet casino games.
The commission felt that changes were necessary to bring online slots more in line with other types of mobile gambling. They’ve now rolled out wholesale changes that promise to shake up the market quite a bit.
Online slots feature a quicker play rate that most types of internet gaming. The 2.5-second rule should help slow these games down and limit losses on them.
PokerStars and Paddy Power have already instituted the slower spin speeds. No operators, however, have removed autoplay or programmed wins/losses displays into their games.
Sports Betting Could Be Next
The UKGC isn’t just picking on the iGaming industry. It’s also currently studying sports betting and ways to curb problem gambling here too.
Sponsorship deals between bookmakers and players/teams could fall under the axe. After all, some organizations have become critical of the close relationship between teams and sports betting companies.
Over 50% of Premier League teams are sponsored by a bookmaker. In the lower levels, meanwhile, more than 70% of clubs have a sportsbook sponsor.
Online Poker Remains Untouched by New Rules
Internet poker is less popular than both online casino games and sports betting in the UK market. Nevertheless, it could be in an enviable position within the coming months.
Online poker wasn’t affected by the UKGC’s new rule changes for internet gaming. It also doesn’t appear to be on the commission’s radar either.
Perhaps the fact that mobile poker isn’t as big as it once was helps in this regard. After all, the average gambler doesn’t seem to be losing quite as much money on iPoker.
Of course, nothing rules out the possibility that the UKGC could examine online poker in the future. For now, though, UK internet poker appears to be safe from any major changes that could hurt its traffic.