Pavlos Sideris has been involved in the iGaming industry for over 12 years and is director of Double Up Media, a UK-based affiliate lead generation company. Sideris values the importance of fairness and transparency in iGaming and believes in putting players before profit.
The UK has certain rules and codes for online casino licensees, which bring required standards in different aspects that slot website operators must adhere to. Ahead of the long-awaited Gambling Act Review White Paper, Pavlos Sideris, Director at Double Up Media, delves into the need for further standardization in key aspects, including payment methods and limits, platform design, terms and conditions, and gaming providers, and how this would affect consumer trust in gambling.
The Licensing Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) is the rulebook set by the UKGC that all gambling operators must adhere to. It’s here that we can locate the primary standards that slot sites must operate by.
The LCCP is not set in stone; it is a living document and can be updated as the need arises. It includes social responsibility guidelines (how operators must protect players, ensure that gambling is crime-free and is conducted fairly and openly); open and transparent marketing guidelines (providing clear rules about how marketing and communications must not mislead consumers, clearly explaining promotions with conditions that are “clear, timely, intelligible, unambiguous, non-misleading and transparent” and that consumers must not be contacted without their consent); and fair and transparent terms and practices (stating that operators must comply with consumer protection laws and treat customers in a fair, open and transparent way).
Nevertheless, the LCCP is not comprehensive, with many operational areas not regulated, meaning that some slot sites fall short of the high expectations of players. With trust in UK gambling falling steadily since 2008, it’s pertinent to consider what other standards slot sites should adhere to.
Great slot sites provide consumers with a range of payment methods that are safe, secure and offer broad applicability with quick processing times. However, the limits for deposits and withdrawals range between providers with no official standardisation. This leads to some slot sites listing high deposit and low withdrawal limits restricting consumer options.
Another area where the need for more guidance is well demonstrated is the variance in withdrawal speeds, with some operators now offering instant withdrawals and others taking far longer. With reverse withdrawals officially banned by the UKGC since 2021, there is no longer any reason for slow or delayed withdrawals that prevent consumers from accessing withdrawals promptly.
Within the LCCP, there is the requirement to conduct KYC checks and ensure that gambling is crime-free (mainly regarding money laundering), but limits and withdrawal speeds remain at the operator's discretion. Standardisation and benchmarks for both areas would increase trust and satisfaction for consumers at slot sites and are an area where greater regulation would be welcomed.
The platform design, usability, and service range vary drastically within the UK slot sites with no set standards. This leads to some consumers having a poor experience, using platforms that are difficult to navigate and offer lacking customer service; this is especially the case for some white label sites developed and launched in short periods.
For example, it’s possible to find some UK licensed casinos that offer a call back service for consumers who require support, and others that don’t even list a phone number or have poorly trained staff. Additionally, many outdated slot sites exist, providing poor design and functionality by modern standards.
While consumers are free to search for another platform in such cases, slot sites should adhere to minimum standards of service and usability that meet the needs of consumers and ensure a consistent level of service across the industry.
The LCCP regulates how UK gambling sites can advertise promotions and contact consumers, but it does not standardise what terms and conditions can be included by operators. While the terms and conditions, withdrawal rules and conditions regarding the use of bonuses/removal of unused bonuses must be clearly displayed, transparent and easy to understand, slot sites can set the conditions they want, like high wagering requirements.
While there has been a move toward operators offering zero-wagering bonuses, which has been positively received by players (evidenced by the increase in this search term), there is no industry-wide movement to offer fairer terms and conditions or, in the case of wagering requirements, set benchmarks that dictate certain limits. However, it is expected that the upcoming Gambling Review white paper will cover this topic as promotional terms and conditions (such as wagering requirements) have more recently been considered to encourage excessive play, which is a compelling argument for greater regulation.
The main product at slot sites is games. UK licensed slot sites may only offer games from licensed providers, ensuring they are thoroughly and independently tested for fairness and behave in accordance with their advertised RTPs . Besides guaranteeing safe and fair gaming, it’s up to operator discretion what titles and styles of slot games they provide. It would be challenging to attempt further standardisation in this area as games are subjective to different player tastes and preferences. Hence this is one area where we would agree that additional standards are not required. However, slot sites that list live RTPs are favoured by players, showing that the more information provided by operators, the more informed and satisfied consumers are.
The Bottom Line
On balance, it’s clear that there are valid arguments that slot sites should adhere to higher standards of service that create greater trust for consumers at UK slot sites. Still, this must not be to the point that every platform offers a standardised product as this may hamper product innovation and choice because many areas like games and promotional preferences are subjective to consumers.