Online Slots Response

Department for Culture, Media and Sport written statement – made at on 26 February 2024.

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Photo of Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)

I am repeating the following Written Ministerial Statement made on 23 February 2024 in the other place by my Right Honourable Friend, the Minister for Sport, Gambling and Civil Society, Stuart Andrew MP:

I wish to inform the House that His Majesty’s Government has today published its response to the ‘Consultation on proposals for a maximum stake limit for online slots games’.

Online slots games can be associated with large losses, long sessions, and binge play, posing a higher risk of gambling harm. However, unlike land-based gaming machines which offer broadly similar games, they have no statutory stake limits. The Gambling Act Review white paper, published last April, committed to addressing the risk posed to players by these theoretically limitless online slots stakes. This is in line with the Government's objectives of protecting people from gambling-related harm, levelling the regulatory playing field between offline and online gambling, and more broadly bringing our gambling regulation into the smartphone era.

The consultation ran from 26 July to 4 October and invited views on a stake limit for online slots games of £2, £5, £10 or £15 per spin. It also outlined options for additional protections for those aged 18 to 24 through a £2 limit, a £4 limit, or specific protections on a case-by-case basis.

Following consultation, the Government will introduce a statutory maximum stake limit of £5 per spin. We will also introduce a statutory maximum limit of £2 per spin for young adults aged 18-24 years old, who the evidence suggests can be particularly vulnerable to harms associated with high stakes play.

We believe these limits are proportionate and will achieve the Government’s stated objectives of reducing the risk of gambling-related harm while minimising the risk of unintended consequences and disruption for the vast majority of gamblers who do not suffer harm. Importantly, these changes bring online slot games in line with existing restrictions on slot machines in casinos. These limits are also aligned with the recommendation made by the DCMS Select Committee’s Second Report into Gambling Regulation, published in December 2023.

Our intention is that the imposed limits should serve as a maximum stake which customers can choose to stake up to, rather than as a new default which operators drive customers towards, or which is otherwise seen as objectively ‘safe’. We will continue to monitor the evidence base and there will be future opportunities to review and if necessary adjust the limits.

Stake limits will also build on existing protections and controls for those who gamble through online slots games and will work alongside other measures outlined in the gambling white paper, including frictionless financial risk checks, data sharing on high-risk customers, and making online games safer by design.

The limits will come into force in September this year, once we have laid the necessary legislation. The white paper package also contained proposals that will support the land-based gambling industry and the introduction of a statutory levy for research, prevention and treatment. The consultations for these measures have now closed and we will publish our response to them in the coming months.

I will deposit a copy of the Consultation in the libraries of both houses.