UK Introduces £2 Cap on Slot Stakes for Under 25s

UK Introduces £2 Cap on Slot Stakes for Under 25s
Wild Casino

New legislation being introduced as part of a wider move to tackle problem gambling in the country, comes into effect in September.

The UK Government announced drastic reforms on digital slot machines on Friday. The new legislation, which comes into force this September, is to cap maximum online slots stakes at £2 for those aged under 25. Those aged over 25 will be able to bet up to £5 per spin. 

The measures are being introduced as part of a wider move to tackle problem gambling in the country. We’ve seen just how addictive online slot games can be in recent years, and with increasing numbers of young people falling foul of problem gambling in the country, the Government has stepped in. 

The accessibility of online gambling is a well-known driving force in the rise of problem gambling - particularly amongst the younger demographics. The landmark legislation seeks to combat this immediate accessibility, reducing the stakes that can be bet on a single spin with the aim of reducing potential losses. 

Up until now, there have been no statutory stake limits on online slot games in the UK, despite their associations with problem gambling and large losses. Some operators, such as Flutter, had already voluntarily imposed maximum stakes to tackle the issue, however. 

Flutter introduced a maximum stake of £10 back in September 2021 - despite the hit that the move had on its own revenue. But other companies have been reluctant to introduce such caps, fearing a potential drop in revenue and the alienation of loyal customers. 

Changes have been expected since 2023 white paper 

Significant changes had been expected since the publication of a Government white paper on gambling reform last year. But the measures that have just been announced are far stricter than some gambling companies had been anticipating. 

At the start of the consultation period, stake limits of between £2 and £15 were discussed. The April 2023 white paper estimated that a limit of £8.50 could cost the industry up to £185m. So it’s safe to assume that a limit of £5, or £2 for those aged under 25, will cost the industry far more than that. 

"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," said Gambling Minister Stuart Andrew.

"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."

Some still think the measures don’t go far enough, though.

"I am pleased that the government has seen sense and opted for a £2 limit for people under 25. There is, however, clear evidence that a £2 limit should be in place for everyone to prevent harm," said Labour MP Carolyn Harris said to The Guardian. "The government has sided with the industry and should rethink."

What’s next for UK gambling reforms? 

There could be further reforms to battle the rise of problem gambling in the country. 

The Gambling Commission is currently in consultation on the idea of affordability checks, which could be used to protect gamblers from racking up devastating losses. Polls suggest that the majority support the introduction of these checks, however there has been fierce opposition from the horse racing industry. 

The Government must strike a careful balance between protecting players - of online casino and otherwise - and intruding too far on privacy, but initial consultations appear positive where such checks are concerned. 

We’ll wait to see whether or not these checks could be introduced in the near future - and what effect they ultimately have on the issue of problem gambling in the UK.