Online games design and reverse withdrawals
Prohibiting player-led “spin stop” features
We consulted on prohibiting in-game features which contribute to greater intensity of gameplay by enabling consumers to:
- deliberately speed up play
- provide consumers with an artificial illusion of control
- encourage dissociation from playing the game itself.
Q14. Do you agree with the proposal to prohibit features designed to deliberately speed up play, provide consumers with an artificial illusion of control, or encourage dissociation from playing the game itself?
62% of respondents agreed with the proposal to prohibit the features listed in the consultation. This included broad support among operators with around three times as many responding positively then negatively. Other business stakeholders were slightly less in favour but still supportive and members of the public had mixed views.
A number of operators questioned why this proposal was necessary as the consultation also proposed to introduce a minimum game cycle speed of 2.5 seconds, with several suggesting features should be permitted providing the spin speed is adhered to.
Several respondents disagreed with the notion that features such as slam stop provided an artificial illusion of control stating that such features were designed to allow consumers to skip repeated animations. A response from academia was of the view that using slam stops may give a consumer the perception of some degree of control over the outcome of a spin, even though the feature has no impact on the probability of winning. A consumer responded that if the outcome was not changed by quick spin or a stop feature, they should be removed. Whilst another mentioned that they knew interacting with the game, by using one of the features, didn’t have an impact on the outcome.
There were several operators who were of the view that the proposal should not affect free spins or features within the game, as doing so would create a lengthy game cycle. Further, it was mentioned that allowing free spins to be accelerated would not conflict with the intention to mirror retail games. One consumer felt that players should be required to initiate each free spin awarded by a bonus.
It was mentioned by a couple of operators that the turbo mode may increase the speed that the reels spin at but not necessarily shorten the game cycle speed.
Several operators expressed concern that the proposal may impact other game elements such as bonus mechanics. A question was asked about whether this would impact ‘genuine skill stops’.
A number of BGC members informed us that they had committed to removing the features in-line with the BGC game design code of conduct (opens in new tab).
After consideration of our position and the responses to the consultation we will introduce the proposed requirement to prohibit features that speed up play or give the illusion of control such as turbo mode, quick spin and slam stop. This list is not intended to be exhaustive as we are aware operators may use alternative names for identical or similar features.
Implementing this requirement alongside the other requirements from this consultation will help reduce the intensity and potential for harm when playing online slot games.
This requirement applies to all slots regardless of the time taken to display the result or the overall game cycle speed. This is to ensure that games that take longer than 2.5 seconds to display the result, cannot be sped up by a customer who may get the erroneous impression that their interaction influenced the outcome.
We are taking this opportunity to clarify that allowing customers to skip animation after the result has been communicated is permissible. For the avoidance of doubt, features that allow customers to reduce the time until a result is shown will not be allowed after the implementation date. After the result is shown, a customer is permitted to skip animations if they wish to - although as per new requirement 14D, the next game cycle cannot be started until the 2.5 seconds have elapsed.
This proposal was not intended to remove any ‘genuine’ choice elements of game play such as picking which box to open, or the number of steps to progress in a feature and or bonus round.
There are a wide variety of feature and or bonus rounds across the large number of slots games in the market. Where rounds do not require any additional financial commitment from consumers and do not frequently occur (such as some bonus and or feature games), the ability for consumers to interact is of lower concern from an intensity perspective and are therefore not in scope.
The aim of the policy is to reduce the intensity of online slots and the onus is on licensees to ensure their games are designed in a way which is consistent with delivering that aim. If it comes to our attention that game developers are seeking to exploit this, by significantly increasing the proportion of game considered to be ‘in a feature’ or in ways which increases the intensity and risk of slots titles, we will not hesitate to take further action in this area.
This requirement will come into force on 31 October 2021.
RTS requirement 14E
The gambling system must not permit a customer to reduce the time until the result is presented.
RTS implementation guidance 14E
a. Features such as turbo, quick spin and slam stop are not permitted. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list but to illustrate the types of features the requirement is referring to.
b. This applies to all remote slots, regardless of game cycle speed.
c. This requirement does not apply to bonus and or feature games where an additional stake is not wagered.
Introducing speed of play limits Next section
Prohibiting auto-play functionality for online slots