The UK has a long history of legal gambling, from trackside and high-street bookmakers to fruit machines in pubs. To the rest of the world, its laws are lenient, its attitudes are relaxed, and it’s considered somewhat of a gambling mecca. But while that might have been the case many years ago, those laws are changing.
Here are just a few of the laws that the UK regulator implemented between 2020 and 2022.
Credit Card Ban (2020)
In 2019, it was announced that credit cards would be banned on UK gambling sites. The concern was that they were being used by problem gamblers to wager money they didn’t have. In 2022, those laws came into effect and since then it has been illegal to use a credit card to gamble in the UK.
The law also applies to PayPal accounts that are funded by credit cards. Now it is only possible to use Paypal bingo sites if you’re using a debit card.
It’s a law that was universally accepted, even by gamblers. Not only are problem gamblers more likely to use these cards, but they were also charged cash advance fees and penalty interest fees when they did (a gambling transaction was akin to a cash transaction for most credit card networks), so it was a costly and risky way to play.
Slower Slots (2021)
All UK slot machine spins must last for at least 2.5 seconds as per a 2021 law change. Prior to this date, it was possible for problem gamblers to complete a spin in a fraction of a second (using “Turbo” mode or just double-clicking the “spin” button). As a result, players gambled more money in a shorter space of time and this concerned the UK Gambling Commission.
The new law effectively outlaws “Turbo” mode and also prevents players from skipping their spins.
No More Auto-play (2021)
Although auto-play options still exist on non-UK slots, they have been removed from slots tailored to UK players.
It was believed that auto-play caused gamblers to lose track of time and wager more than they usually would.
No “Winning” Sounds on Losing Spins (2021)
Another change that was widely embraced by players called for the removal of all “winning sounds” on losing spins. The satisfying jingle of coins and upbeat notes tell a player that they have won, even though the payout is less than the stake.
The issue is not that people will be tricked, as no slot player genuinely believes they have won in such circumstances. It’s more of a psychological trick, as playing these sounds is thought to activate the reward centre of the brain, stimulating the player, and encouraging them to take further spins.
Major Overhaul (2022)
The UK Gambling Commission is preparing more changes to UK gambling laws and these are being planned for 2022. The goal is to update the 2005 Gambling Act and ensure it stays relevant in the age of interactive gambling.
The government committed to making changes back in 2019, but those changes have since been delayed. It is expected that the changes will include lower bet limits (mainly for fixed-online betting terminals) and more social support funds.