National Strategic Assessment 2020
What are the issues - Online game and platform design
There has been an increase in the proportion of players who play slot games either online or in person. Online slots are the largest online gambling product by Gross Gambling Yield – played by relatively few but with a higher average spend. Structurally it has several features which can combine to signiﬁcantly increase intensity of play.
This is an area of focus for us because the Health Survey for England 2018 (opens in new tab) records the problem gambling rate37 for online slots, casino or bingo games as 8.5%. For online betting with a bookmaker it is 3.7% and 10.7% for betting on a betting exchange.
Online gambling is, therefore, an area of relatively high risk. Our research into why consumers gamble (opens in new tab) indicates that 14% of participants had experienced a gambling ‘binge’, with 24% of those binging having done so on online slots. This finding ranks online slots as the gambling product with the highest binge rate amongst the respondents to this research.
This ﬁnding ranks online slots as the gambling product with the highest binge rate amongst the respondents to this research. We also know problem gambling and moderate-risk rates are higher for online slots as a product, but importantly that these rates increased for certain groups such as young adults, for whom the risk of gambling-related harm appears higher.
We will publish a response to our consultation on Safer Game Design.
The way a player can add funds, and how easy it is to do also plays a role in risk. Non-cash payment methods without suitable controls may facilitate increased spending and disrupt a player's cognition of the perceived impact on their ﬁnances. Such a risk is exacerbated by platform designs which discourage the cashing out of winnings or provide the opportunity to reverse withdrawal requests.
This risk is heightened by the conduct of some licensees who institute additional player checks at the point of withdrawal and not at deposit or prior to gambling.
Licensees cannot demand that customers submit information as a condition of withdrawing funds from their account, if they could have reasonably asked for that information earlier.
We will publish a response to our proposal to ban reverse withdrawals. Licensees were instructed in May 2020 to prevent further reverse withdrawals as an immediate player protection measure, whilst this issue was considered.
37Defined by classification as a problem gambler by either or both of the PGSI and DSM-IV screens
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What are the issues - Higher risk products