UKGC Proposals 2020 - A Shade Too Far? or Not Far Enough?
It seems that the Tories have hit gamblers hard in general and slots fans hardest of all with both recent and imminent changes to the UK’s gambling laws.
One of Theresa May’s parting shots before her resignation was to cut the maximum (land-based) slots stake to £2 from its previous £100, which passed through Parliament early in 2019. Being posh, Theresa didn’t refer to them as ‘slots’ of course; she much preferred the term FOBT (Fixed Odds Betting Terminal).
It seems that our latest PM, Mr Johnson (Boris to his friends) has agreed to uphold Ms May’s decision and has also commissioned reports on further changes to our slot machines, as well as the way we pay for our hobbies.
See Private Eye Issue 1512 (December 2019) Page 12, Article Titled: The New Boys and Girls.
The report is just one of the many commissioned on behalf of the Government by the UKGC.
We do not expect you to read it all, but we have. It has a total of 97 pages, including Appendices. Much of the information contained therein is repetitive and worse still; it draws no specific conclusion on the matter.
Some of the biggest names in land-based bookmaking have tried (unsuccessfully) to bypass this new law and William Hill has recently declared that it will need to close around 700 of its High Street outlets by the end of 2020 due to lost revenue resulting directly from the changes.
Other groups and individuals believe that a small fortune has been spent on the years investigating gambling losses on slots, but that the reduction in problem gambling has barely diminished by comparison to the cost of researching it.
Also, many believe that all the UK Government has achieved with its restrictions is to lose people their livelihoods and to send avid slots fans online, rather than into well-regulated premises.
It appears that the UKGC’s next move is to ban some online slots features, including the very popular ‘Feature Drop’, which enables players to ‘buy’ entry to bonus levels without having to work their way through to them.
It seems that these features could cause “excess spending” by online slots fans. The ban has yet to become law, but rumour has it that several top online slots development companies have already received a ‘heads-up’ urging them to remove this feature.
For some, it is a straightforward matter to disable them for the UK market, but for others who use hard-coding’ for their games, it will mean a lot of extensive (and expensive) if the changes became law.
Another matter currently on the UK Government’s radar is the use of Credit cards to fund any gambling-related activities. A ban would preclude using Credit cards in all land-based outlets where gambling takes place, as well as on any UK-regulated online gambling sites.
The move has the intention of preventing gamblers from using any form of financial credit to fund their pastime, in the hope that they will not ‘overspend’ on their so-called “addiction”.
A recent UKGC-commissioned consultation has revealed that this suggestion has met with very mixed opinions. A “consultation” is a questionnaire opened by the UKGC, to which any group or individual is entitled to respond.
The Credit card consultation one is now closed, but received some very relevant comments from many different agencies including gambling industry personnel, religious groups, charities and a few astute (non-gambling) individuals.
As you might expect, mixed views on this particular subject, but the main public consensus appeared to be that anyone with a “gambling problem” would almost certainly resort to finding other forms of borrowing far more expensive than the average credit card. The suggestions included pay-day loans, door-to-door loan providers and unregulated loan sharks.
This particular subject is far from closed and we will keep you informed on further developments as they emerge.
What do we think?
It is our task to provide our blog readers with any information concerning the world of gambling that we feel has relevance to them. In that sense, we hope that you have found this article interesting and informative and it has given you some insight into a few relatively recent UKGC activities, of which you might otherwise be unaware.
We are not here to take sides and we like to think that laws are put in place to protect those who are vulnerable in any way. However, it is sometimes the case that those same laws can affect businesses in a negative sense and also place limitations on those who enjoy a healthy and balanced relationship with gambling.
Tracy started writing for us in early 2017 and is a crucial player within our team. She’s the editor of our Blog and regularly writes other articles. Tracy’s online gambling insights are born out of years of real-world experience as a Croupier overseeing table games.