UK Slot Game Regulations Explored

Updated: 45

UK Slot Game Regulations Explored
Jenny Mason Slots Content Manager

Jenny Mason: 17+ years in online gambling, top UK brands. Expert in sports betting, slots, and bingo.

Introduction

The UK is a heavily regulated region when it comes to gambling, so it’s worth knowing the latest changes to gambling law and how these affect gameplay. I'm going to tell you about some recent changes that were implemented which have affected slot sites. As well as some upcoming changes that will impact how you play slots in the future.

The United Kingdom Gambling Commission, more commonly known as the UKGC, regulates the UK gambling industry. Before making any changes to the law, the UKGC consults with players, experts, casinos, and gambling operators to consider potential issues.

Right, let's delve in and find out what the latest is.

Bonus Buy

image showing a bonus buy feature example

Bonus Buy, sometimes referred to as ‘feature buy’ is a functionality within slot games where you can pay money upfront to fast-track and trigger the slot’s bonus game as shown in the image above. This is instead of waiting for the bonus game to be triggered randomly by regularly spinning the slots. 

Using a Bonus Buy feature is expensive and it will cost you around 100 times your total bet usually, depending on the slot game. With the RTP rate normally rising to compensate for the upfront cost, it's worth mentioning that you may or may not win your initial investment back when playing Bonus Buy slots. Below you'll find some of the most expensive bonus buy features available by Nolimit City

Slot GameStudioMax Bonus BuyRTPMax Win
Tombstone RIPNolimit City3,000 x bet97.03%300,000 x bet
Brick Snake 2000Nolimit City8,360 x bet97.01%16,220 x bet
San QuentinNolimit City2,000 x bet96.95%150,000 x bet

Bonus Buy Changes

Bonus buy changes have already been implemented. Back in 2019, the UKGC announced that all slot studios must remove the bonus buy mechanic from their games. This was part of its efforts to address concerns related to problem gambling. Therefore, you will not see the Bonus Buy feature on any UK slot games anymore. 

Workarounds

Due to Bonus Buy slots being restricted in the UK, some clever slot providers/studios have found ways around it. 

  • Relax Gaming brings all the action of the Money Train series with a Money Cart slot series. 
  • Blueprint Gaming is another who have released All Action versions of popular Megaways slots

If you take the iconic Money Train 4 game, there is a Money Cart 4 slot which is basically the same. It's basically a bonus feature version of Money Train 4 that triggers every 10.05 spins on average. Costing £10 a spin, you then get to play the Money Cart Bonus feature. The only downside is that the max win potential is 15,000 times your total bet versus 150,000 times bet in Money Train 4.

Blueprint Gaming's Megaways All Action slots include Diamond Mine All Action Megaways and Buffalo Rising All Action Megaways. In both, you spin away from £10 a spin with no base game. With every spin, you choose from various free spins and starting multiplier options. With 10,000 times bet max wins, the standard version comes with 50,000 times bet payouts. 

Autoplay

Autoplay is a feature commonly found in slot games, both online and in land casinos. It allows you to set the game to automatically spin the reels for you for a certain number of times. Meaning that you don't need to spin them manually if say, you’re away from your screen. You can adjust the settings, which include the number of spins, bet amount per spin, and stopping autoplay when certain win or loss limits are hit.

Autoplay Changes

Again, these changes have been around for a while now. Back in February 2021, the UKGC announced a ban on the autoplay feature aimed at improving safety for online slot players. The Gambling Commission stated that Autoplay correlates with spending more money and more time on a slot game than originally intended: 

  • The majority (58%) of auto-play users agreed that auto-play had resulted in them playing a game faster than they had intended.
  • Almost half (45%) agreed that auto-play had resulted in them spending more money than they had originally intended, and
  • 38% agreed that auto-play had resulted in them spending more time on a game than they had intended.

Spin Speed

During a slots game, spin speed is the rate at which the reels spin during gameplay. It determines how quickly the symbols on the reels rotate before coming to a stop to reveal the outcome of the spin. The spin speed can vary depending on the specific slot game. 

In most slots, there is an option within the game to adjust the spin speed. This is known as Quick Spin, Turbo Spin or Slam Stop commonly. 

Spin Speed Changes

Back in October 2021, the UKGC brought in a change to place a limit on spin speed to a minimum of 2.5 seconds per spin.  This, again, had the aim of protecting players as it will help reduce the intensity and potential for harm when playing online slot games. 

The UKGC states 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.

Age Verification For Free-Play Slot Games

Age Verification example for the UK Slot Regulations article

Slot games allow you to enjoy the gameplay without risking any real money by offering ‘free-play’ games. These games are often known as demo slots on slot sites. When you play in free-play mode, you’re given a virtual currency that you use to place bets and spin the reels just like in real-money slots. 

I use free-play games to review the latest slots for OLBG. However, since no actual money is wagered, any winnings are also virtual and cannot be cashed out. Free-play slot games are popular as they allow you to try out different slot titles without any risk.

Changes to Age Verification for Free-Play Slot Games?

From May 2019, the law changed so that any ‘remote licensees’ which means sites such as affiliate betting websites, must ensure that they’ve verified the age of any customer. This must happen before a customer can access the licensee’s free-to-play games. This is to ensure that all UK players are aged 18 or over. Reputable and trusted age verification solutions are used by slots-focused sites to verify the age of their UK users. 

Maximum Stakes

The maximum stake is the highest amount of money that you can place on a single spin or bet. Maximum stake limits are put in place to manage the potential financial risks for both the player and the operator. 

Changes to the Maximum Stakes for Slot Games

From September 2024, there will be a maximum stake limit introduced for online slot games, which means that:

18 to 24 year olds£2 per spin
25 year olds & over£5 per spin

This is a huge change in the online slots world and operators are currently preparing for these game modifications. These changes bring online slots in line with land-based casinos as currently there are no statutory stake limits online.

Conclusion

Gambling regulations are an ever-evolving landscape which are worth keeping an eye on. These changes to the law aim to ensure that players can enjoy slot games safely. I hope this article has helped make some of these legal changes clear to you. Thanks for reading, and you can read more about the latest slot games we've reviewed here at OLBG.

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