(Alliance News) - The online slot machine industry must introduce a series of strict new measures to protect players, the UK's Gambling Commission has announced.
Online slot machines have soared in popularity during the Covid-19 pandemic as lockdowns and the cancellation of sporting events have seen gamblers turning to the games in record numbers.
But, by the end of October, online slot machine operators must limit the speed of the games, stop using sounds and images suggesting a "win" when the user has lost, and end the use of auto-play settings.
Slots are worth GBP2.2 billion and the industry is growing at around GBP100 million a year, according to the regulator.
Gambling Commission Chief Executive Neil McArthur said: "To make online games safer we are introducing a ban on features that speed up play or give the illusion of control over the outcome.
"We are also introducing a ban on autoplay, losses disguised as wins, and slot spin speeds faster than 2.5 seconds. The evidence shows that these features increase the risk of harm to customers.
"This is another important step in making gambling safer and, where the evidence shows that there are other opportunities to do that, we are determined to take them."
UK Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: "Today's steps will help curb the intensity of online gambling, introducing greater protections that will reduce the risk of gambling-related harm.
"I welcome the Gambling Commission's tough measures as we continue our comprehensive review of gambling laws to make sure they're fit for the digital age."
The commission said it has focused on online slots because of its features which increase the intensity of play and the corresponding risks to players.
Slot games have by far the highest average losses per player of online gambling products, it added.
Other changes also include a permanent ban on reverse withdrawals â€“ a function which allows consumers to re-gamble money they had previously requested to withdraw.
Operators must also clearly display to the player their total losses or wins and time played during any online slots session.
Flutter Entertainment PLC, Entain PLC, William Hill PLC and 888 Holdings PLC are among the London-listed gambling companies with online casino offerings.
Paddy Power owner Flutter was trading 0.4% higher on Tuesday morning. Ladbrokes owner Entain was down 0.4%, William Hill was up 0.1% and 888 shares were 0.3% down.
Copyright 2021 Alliance News Limited. All Rights Reserved.