One of the effects of the robust UK licensing regime on bingo sites and slot sites is that the games themselves, as well as the operators, have to be licensed. The UK Gambling Commission made a high profile intervention in this area last year, requiring the “buy the bonus round” feature to be removed from Extra Chilli and a number of other games as it was considered too likely to encourage problem gambling. Now, the industry standards body the BGC has stepped up to the plate.
BGC stands for Betting and Gaming Council. They are a relatively new body which was set up last year to represent all areas of the UK betting and gaming industry, online and offline, apart from lotteries. The new code of conduct which they have just published for online game design is part of their mission to ensure enjoyable, fair and safe betting and gaming for all customers; specifically, it aims to improve player safety and tackle problem gambling.
So what does this mean for players? Well, Phase 1 of the new code is in force NOW – the implementation date was 30th September 2020 – but you may not have noticed much.
- A minimum game cycle speed of 2.5 seconds – this means that each spin must take at least 2.5 seconds to complete
- No turbo play – no, you can’t press a button to skip all the animations and speed up that 2.5 seconds
- No base game slam stops – for the same reason as no turbo play
- No playing multiple slots at the same time in different windows – one at a time only
Phase 2 will come into effect for new games from 31st January 2021
- No celebration of wins below the stake size – so no music or exciting sound effects and no animations or fancy text allowed when you get one of those small wins that are really losses
- No automatic entry into the bonus round or back into the base game afterwards – players must click a button or otherwise interact to start the bonus round or restart the base game
Two further measures are on the horizon but no timescale has yet been agreed.
- A safer gambling link inside the gaming client – so a player can quickly and easily set deposit, time and loss limits without having to leave the game and even take a break or self exclude right in the middle of gameplay if they so wish.
- Mandatory player interaction – a compulsory reality check every 60 minutes which the player must click on in order to continue playing.
Much, much more is still being examined in the BGC Innovation and Testing Lab and some of the areas they are looking at are:
- A common game labelling system to help players understand and evaluate volatility and other metrics across games from different providers
- An investigation into how often players increase stake levels during play and whether this is related to risk of harm (and therefore whether reducing the maximum stake would help reduce harm)
- An investigation into whether the use of auto-play is associated with a risk of harm (and therefore whether banning it would help reduce harm)
- Reviewing the options for displaying net position and elapsed time to players – an always-on display showing how long you have been playing and how much you are up or down
While the new standards that have just come into force won’t change things much, some of the measures that are being discussed for possible future implementation – such as the possible removal of autoplay -are pretty intrusive and could substantially change the player experience. We hope they won’t end up removing all the entertainment value from slot games!