UKGC Announces New Gambling Restrictions Affecting Pokies and the iGaming Industry

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by Jack Harris
| 30/05/2021
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UKGC Announces New Gambling Restrictions

2021 was off to an excellent start for pokie lovers, who will continue having access to an impressive range of games, including classic reeled titles and modern quests with crisp graphics. For punters in the UK, the case might be different, especially after the UK Gambling Commission prohibited credit cards and added stricter measures to casino VIP schemes in 2020. To build onto the ever-changing gambling regulations, the UKGC recently published new laws that directly affect real money pokies and the iGaming industry at large. In the sections below, we take a brief look at some of the new regulations and how they change the overall grand scheme of things.

The Regulations

The UKGC published many new regulations, some of which take out pokie features, such as 'Autospin' and others affecting banking options. It is worth noting that the commission has been publishing new regulations every year, including in 2020, which saw the banning of credit cards and focused on eliminating misleading casino features. The Gambling Commission has said that online operators would need to implement these new rules by 31 October this year.

Here we will quickly brush through the new 2021 regulations that affect pokies and real money casinos.

  • Pokie Speed to Change

Pokies will no longer spin faster than 2.5 seconds. In some games, the first four reels spin at a normal pace, and if a win is more likely to occur, the fifth reel spins faster and longer. This feature is popular in the Wild West-themed pokies and is used to heighten the excitement and expectation. Unfortunately, this feature will no longer be part of the pokie experience in UKGC casinos. Additionally, pokies are now prohibited from speeding play and creating the illusion of control over the outcome. This will affect many pokie games that speed up the spin animation to provide results immediately. In simple terms, the pokies will spin at normal speeds all the time, whether you win or lose, which will eliminate most high-variance titles.

  • Eliminated Pokie/Casino Features

The most prolific feature future UK pokies will miss is the Autospin. According to the new regulations from the UKGC, players will no longer have the option to play pokies automatically. Instead, they will be required to press the spin button each time. The Autospin feature doesn't affect the win-loss setting, so removing it seems odd. Operators must also cancel reverse withdrawals henceforth. Usually, players can request a withdrawal and then reverse/cancel the transaction to continue betting with the money. This feature is now banned, according to the new regulations. Lastly, pokies are prohibited from including sounds and imagery with the illusion of a big win, such as 'Mega Win', 'Big Win', etc., if the actual win is equal to or below the bet amount.

  • Other Regulations

Some regulations don’t directly affect the gameplay of pokies. For instance, operators are now required to display the total losses or wins and time played during all online sessions. This regulation affects the operators, rather than pokies, but is an essential one. Other laws affect aspects of the iGaming industry, including VIP membership practices, and measures used to identify players with problem gambling. Such regulations only affect UKGC licensed operators and have little effect in other regions. Nonetheless, UKGC leads the pack when it comes to gambling regulations and licenses reputable online gambling sites. Other jurisdictions model their regulations after the UKGC.

Impacts on the iGaming Industry

The goal behind the new gambling regulations in the UK is to make online gambling safer. All measures are aimed at increasing player protection and curbing compulsive gambling. However, because they only affect UK operators, game providers might have to provide two versions of the game; the regular pokies and unique versions that meet the UKGC requirements. For providers, developing two different versions of the same game for the entire catalogue of titles will take more time, resources and funds. Some providers are bound to bypass the UKGC requirements, to focus on providing games for offshore operators. This leaves punters with no option but to play pokies on offshore websites. The bottom line is it spells massive changes in the iGaming industry, not only in the UK but also across the world.

The UKGC is the most reputable agency that licenses online casino operators. Over the years, the agency has introduced many regulations to protect players from the negative effects of gambling. From self-exclusion schemes like GamStop to strict KYC requirements, and banning credit card use in casinos, the UKGC maintains its dedication to protecting players. However, the new rules could result in a situation where UK operators have fewer games to provide for their players. The situation could change if other regions adopt the same rules, but even that should take a couple of years. Currently, no law prohibits UK punters from gambling offshore. The new regulations may see more customers sign up on websites licensed outside the UK. Game providers also face new challenges with every change experienced in the iGaming industry.

Summary

Gambling laws continue to evolve across the globe as more regions open doors to fully regulated betting scenes, while others tighten up loopholes. The new regulations from the UKGC aren't entirely novel, as the agency is always looking into new ways to make online gambling safer for all UK customers. Combating problem gambling and finding help for vulnerable players has been the UKGC's priority, and all regulations are designed around increasing awareness and transparency. Unfortunately, these new standards are set to impact the global iGaming industry. As it stands, players, game providers, and operators must decide to stick to UKGC requirements or find fewer restrictions in offshore jurisdictions.

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