New £2 gambling limit to be introduced for under 25s in 2024

Daily Record
New £2 gambling limit to be introduced for under 25s in 2024
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The Government has announced new measures to protect people from harmful gambling, including a £2 spin limit for under-25s playing online slot games.

Starting from September 2024, adults aged 25 and over will have a £5 stake limit on online slots to prevent significant harm and life-changing losses, says the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

There is currently no limit on how much can be staked on online slots. In 2019, the Government reduced the stakes on similar machines in betting shops, known as fixed-odds betting terminals, from £100 to £2.

The DCMS calls these new limits a "landmark moment" in online gambling regulation. Online slot games, which are easily accessible, are among the most addictive forms of gambling and can lead to large losses, long sessions, and binge play, according to evidence presented during a consultation on the Government's gambling White Paper.

Research from the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities shows that young adults could be particularly at risk from gambling-related harm, with under-25s having the highest average problem gambling score of any age group.

NHS survey figures also reveal a problem gambling rate of 8.7 per cent for online gambling on slots, casino or bingo games one of the highest rates across all gambling activities. The DCMS explained that young adults have less disposable income, are still developing their ability to assess risks, and often have to manage money for the first time.

They also found evidence of a stronger link between harm from gambling and suicide among young adults.

Stuart Andrew, the Gambling Minister, said: "Although millions of people gamble safely every single day, the evidence shows that there is a significantly higher problem gambling rate for online slot games. We also know that young adults can be more vulnerable when it comes to gambling-related harms, which is why we committed to addressing both of these issues in our White Paper.

"The growing popularity of online gambling is clear to see, so this announcement will level the playing field with the land-based sector and is the next step in a host of measures being introduced this year that will protect people from gambling harms."

Zoe Osmond, who leads the gambling charity GambleAware, said: "We welcome the Government's announcement to introduce lower online stake limits for under-25s as an important mechanism to protect young people. Our research shows a concerning trend with this age group experiencing an increase in harm arising from gambling and online slots are very high-risk products.

"As we continue our work to tackle this growing public health issue, we will collaborate with the Government and others across the gambling harms sector to ensure there are no missed opportunities when it comes to the introduction of robust preventative measures, including new regulations such as these."

However, other activists described the limits as a "missed opportunity" after calling for a maximum spend of £2 or less.

Charles Ritchie, co-founder of Gambling with Lives, said: "The £2 limit for under-25s is a step in the right direction, but £5 for over-25s is another missed opportunity to stop the harm to millions and the devastation caused by gambling suicides.

"Stake limits offer some reduction in harm but the products are still highly addictive, so we also need much slower spin speeds, affordability checks, and proper public health information about the dangers."

The limits will be enforced in September following secondary legislation, with a six-week transition period for operators to adhere to the general £5 stake limit rules. There will be an additional six week period to develop any necessary technical solutions to ensure full compliance with the lower stake limit of £2 for younger adults.

The DCMS announced that responses to broader White Paper measures would be published "soon".

If you're worried about how gambling is affecting you or someone else, visit Gambleaware online or call its free 24-7 National Gambling Helpline at 0808 8020 133.