In a significant move aimed at curbing problem gambling and protecting vulnerable players, the UK government is set to introduce stringent regulations on online slot stakes. According to reports from The Guardian, the maximum stake on online slots will be capped at £2 per spin for individuals under the age of 25, and £5 per spin for those over 25.

Online slots have become a prominent feature of the UK’s regulated £11 billion gambling industry, accounting for a substantial portion of revenue generated last year. Currently, there is no legal maximum stake for online slots in the UK, although some operators have voluntarily imposed limits, such as Flutter, which set slot limits at £10 from September 2021.

The impending rule change represents one of the most drastic measures under consideration by the government as part of its efforts to tighten regulatory controls on the online gambling industry. Options ranging from £2 to £15 were initially on the table, with the government ultimately opting for stricter limits to address concerns about the potential harm caused by excessive gambling.

The decision to implement a £2 maximum stake for individuals under 25 aligns with recommendations from a white paper published in April 2023, which emphasized the need for lower limits, particularly for younger demographics deemed to be more vulnerable to gambling-related harm. However, some critics, including Labour MP Carolyn Harris, argue that the £2 limit should apply to all players to effectively prevent harm.

The proposed regulatory reforms also include the introduction of affordability checks, whereby operators will be required to assess customers’ financial vulnerability using data from credit reports, court records, and postcode statistics. Additionally, loss thresholds will be implemented to trigger intervention when players exceed certain financial limits, such as losing £1,000 net within 24 hours or £2,000 within 90 days.

Furthermore, operators will be obligated to pay a statutory levy to fund problem gambling programs and research, in addition to existing taxes and voluntary contributions. These measures reflect the government’s commitment to addressing concerns about problem gambling while ensuring that operators contribute to mitigating its societal impact.

The move marks a significant shift in the regulatory landscape of the UK gambling industry, which was liberalized in 2005 to foster innovation and growth in online gambling. However, mounting concerns about problem gambling have prompted calls for tighter controls, leading to the implementation of these stringent measures.

While the government’s actions are aimed at protecting consumers and promoting responsible gambling, critics argue that excessive regulation may drive vulnerable players to unregulated black market operators, where safeguards are lacking. Nevertheless, the introduction of stricter regulations underscores the government’s determination to address the challenges posed by problem gambling and ensure the integrity of the UK gambling industry.