The UKGC has also put forward a proposal to prohibit reverse withdrawals which allow customers to change their mind about withdrawing funds from their account before the transfer has completed. Relax Gaming’s CRO believes this change will help to ensure players don’t make hasty decisions. “It’s normal for a player to withdraw their prize money only to suddenly turn back and re-gamble that sum, that’s when forbidding withdrawal requests reversal comes into play and can really help players to stay in control and make better decisions.” Overall, some of the changes proposed in the consultation will ultimately affect the playing experience in different ways. Marshall points out that removing the auto-spin function would likely create a negative experience for players.
“Given its popularity, it has become almost integral to the game experience for many, so I see this as likely being negatively received as it will mean players will have to revert back to older, less-enjoyed ways of playing slots.”
In turn, Smilovic thinks those players that are seeking a high-intensity, thrilling gambling experience will instead be faced with a much slower-paced environment. “Similarly, players seeking relaxation in their gambling activity may not find the same sense of escapism, as the new requirements will keep them alert and conscious of their actions during their playing time.” But she does acknowledge that it will help players who are susceptible to developing unhealthy habits or behaviours. A real worry for the online slots sector is whether these proposals could harm the vertical’s growth prospects in the future. For Marshall, that is a huge concern. “For example, think of its effect on general innovation – how does a slower bet-to-result time affect other forms of games? What does this mean for innovation – like adding skill-based elements? “We also need to take into account how much turnover is required in a game. Games run at between 92%-97% RTP, which means players need to play plenty of rounds in order for the games to make money. Slowing the spin time, while negligible at only 2.5 seconds, still risks making the experience sluggish, and in turn, reducing retention rates and the vertical’s growth,” he comments.
For Smilovic, it’s hard to say what the impact might be but she does point out that the proposed restrictions could intrinsically reduce the spending of an important portion of the UK market when looking at the periodic ratio (hours, days, weeks, months). “The result will likely show a negative impact on the casino segment growth, especially when taking the UK market’s valuable position in the European landscape,” she says. Looking ahead, Marshall believes the online slots consultation is a step in the right direction and an opportunity for suppliers to work more closely with the regulator to improve player trust and the public’s perception of gambling. While it appears a deeper regulatory overhaul is unavoidable, the slots community is hopeful that good and effective proposals will come out of the consultation and that it will be a chance for the industry to improve and show a willingness to be part of that journey alongside the regulator.