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Consultation response

Online games design and reverse withdrawals

Consultation response for online games design and reverse withdrawals and proposed changes to the design of online slots.

Executive Summary

During the summer we consulted on proposed changes to the design of online slots - specifically to make them safer for consumers. Alongside this consultation, we proposed restrictions on reverse withdrawals which would apply to all remote operators.

We know that the success of many technology companies, digital content creators and game designers depends on their ability to establish and maintain the engagement of their consumers on their website, mobile apps and – in premises – gaming machines.

We also know that speed of play, frequency of gambling opportunities, and other factors can increase the risk of addiction and harm. The changes outlined within this document will help to mitigate these risks for online slots players.

Online slots are one of the largest online gambling products by Gross Gambling Yield (GGY) - played by relatively few but with a high average spend. Structurally, these products have a number of features which can combine to significantly increase intensity of play and pose a relatively high risk. This is reflected in the associated problem and moderate-risk gambling rates and further details can be found in the Gambling product section of our National Risk Assessment.

At the time of the consultation, we were clear that proposals on the design of slots games and reverse withdrawals are just one step in reducing the risk of harm. It is an area which has seen technological innovation in terms of product design, and we expect operators to continually show an equal, and indeed greater, commitment to innovate in terms of consumer protection. The proposals in this consultation form part of a comprehensive package of work we are taking forward to make online gambling safer. The proposals related to:

  • a suite of new controls aimed at reducing the potential for consumers to be harmed by their gambling on the most intensive products: online slots
  • removing the ability of operators to reverse customer withdrawal requests.

It is our intention to proceed with most of the proposed changes as set out in the consultation document. Reflecting the responses received we have sought additional evidence before reaching a decision on some proposals and amended others.

We have set out our position on each proposal in the relevant section of this document and in addition a summary of the new remote gambling and software technical standards (RTS) requirements can be seen in Annex 1.

The new requirements will form part of a revised RTS which will take effect on 31 October 2021.

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