Gamblers under 25 face £2 spin limit

UK Government set to cap online slot spins at £2, potentially costing casinos millions

Reading time 2 min

The UK government is reportedly on the verge of implementing new restrictions on online slot machines, with spins potentially limited to as little as £2 ($2.5).

This regulatory move is anticipated to be disclosed on Friday and could have significant financial implications for casino companies, possibly amounting to hundreds of millions of pounds, The Guardian reported. 

The proposed limit is expected to be £2 for individuals under the age of 25, mirroring the government's 2019 restriction on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs). Those aged 25 and older may confront a higher limit of £5 ($6.3) per spin. Presently, there is effectively no limit on the amount gamblers can stake on these games, which generate over £3 billion ($3.8 billion) annually and are believed to carry a higher addiction rate compared to other forms of gambling.

As per the report, gambling campaigners and industry sources are anticipating more details, including the implementation timeline, to be revealed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on Friday. The imposition may result in significant revenue losses for the UK gambling sector, amounting to hundreds of millions of pounds.

When the government initiated consultations on potential limits, it proposed a range between £2 and £15. The white paper published in April 2023 estimated that setting the limit at £8.50 or $10.74 (the mid-point of the suggested range) would cost the industry up to £185 million. However, opting for a £5 limit, or £2 for younger players, is expected to escalate costs for online casino companies beyond that level.

Citing an industry insider, the report said implementing dual stake limits could potentially increase operational costs for operators.

Campaigners, while welcoming the measure, contend that it falls short. “I am pleased that the government has seen sense and opted for a £2 limit for people under 25. There is, however, clear evidence that a £2 limit should be in place for everyone to prevent harm. The government has sided with the industry and should rethink,” said Labour MP Carolyn Harris, who chairs a cross-party group examining gambling-related harm.

“The gambling industry may present this as harm to their profit margin but the real harm is to the millions trying to cope with addiction caused by toxic gambling products, and the terrible suffering of families bereaved by gambling suicide. The government has lost another opportunity to stop the harm caused by high stake sizes, and the truth is that many more people will die,” Liz Ritchie, co-founder of the charity Gambling With Lives, was quoted as saying in the report.

Online casinos constitute the largest and fastest-growing segment of the gambling industry, contributing £4 billion to the sector's £11 billion revenues last year, excluding the national lottery. Within this, slots accounted for £3.2 billion, as per the latest statistics from the Gambling Commission for the year ending March 2023.

Alongside new limits on slot machine stakes, the Gambling Commission is consulting on affordability checks that gamblers could be forced to pass if they rack up losses.

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