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Assessment of online games design changes

Gambling Commission report focusing on research conducted into the impact of the online gambling games design changes.

Executive summary

The evidence presented in this report shows reduced play intensity on online slots products since the changes were introduced.

There is no increase in staking activity in response to the limit on spin speeds.

The report shows no changes for some of the identified metrics with no negative affects observed. Some potential reasons for why limited changes were observed for those metrics are explored in the Limitations section of this report.

There has been no significant, negative impact on the enjoyment of the games on gamblers as a result of the changes.

Some of the identified outcomes will require longer-term monitoring. However, attributing any observed changes to those outcomes to the online game design changes will become increasingly difficult.

Outcomes and summaries

These are the main outcomes and summaries for the report.

Reduced play intensity

The changes have had a positive impact on play intensity, as the popularity of slots products continues to grow.

Consumers are better informed and have improved understanding of their interaction with the products

Reported awareness has not changed and remains high.

Reduced 'binge gambling' on slots games

Reported binge information is stable, with a positive indication for post-change financial losses. Slots are still viewed as a product that it is easy for people to become engrossed in.

Increased gambling within the intentions and means of consumers

The ability of gamblers to stay within their intended play duration has not changed significantly.

Reduced complaints about remote gambling industry

The number of complaints about remote gambling businesses have remained static and no impact on online slots complaints can be discerned as complaints are not currently coded by product. This is a long-term outcome where it will be difficult to attribute changes.

Gambling businesses take safer gambling measures more proactively

New measures have been introduced but these cannot be attributed to the changes to slots products. They are more likely to be directly impacted by other motivations.

Increased trust in gambling and gambling businesses

The level of trust in the gambling industry has increased, though it cannot be attributed to these changes introduced towards the end of 2021. This outcome is a potential long-term consequence.

Reduced 'problem gambling' rate for online slots

It is very difficult to assess the impact of the changes on ‘problem gambler’ rates before and after the changes were implemented. Results for the Health Survey for England in 2018 and 2021 are not comparable due to the change in methodology between survey years and data from the new Gambling Survey for Great Britain is not yet available.

Assumptions and summaries

These are the main assumptions and summaries for the report.

Consumers do not increase stake in response to slower gameplay

There is strong evidence that staking has not increased as a result of the changes.

Consumers do not increase session length in response to slower gameplay

Session length, especially the proportion of long sessions, has decreased.

Consumers do not simultaneously play on multiple tabs or accounts

There has been a statistically significant reduction in reported simultaneous slots play.

Developers do not seek to implement measures to bypass the game design changes

There has been no notification or detection of any breach of the regulation through the development of new games but we continue to engage where we see potential issues.

Consumers do not transfer their gambling to more harmful games

The evidence suggests there has been no sizeable displacement to any product.

The position and time are 'clearly' displayed and noted by consumers

Reported awareness is high, though the rate has not changed since the slots game changes were introduced.

Consumers do not increase loss chasing as a result of their net position

The evidence suggests that there has been no increase in loss-chasing because of the changes.

Consumers are not displaced to the offline or unlicensed illegal market

There is no evidence of displacement to the offline or unlicensed illegal markets.

Inconvenience and reduced enjoyment for gamblers is minimised

There is no evidence of reduced enjoyment for leisure gamblers.

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Assessment of online games design changes - Introduction
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