The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has unveiled a brand new code of conduct regarding the design of video slots.
The new measures unveiled by the BGC this week will be introduced to online casinos at the end of this month and, as set out by the BGC’s Safer Gambling Commitments report from 2019, will require the implementation of slower slot speeds and ban various features.
As reported by on the BGC website, the aim of the new code is to drive up standards and address concerns over player safety by ensuring that safer gambling principles are applied to the design of games before they’re made available to players in the UK.
The code, which can be read here, includes a minimum game speed of 2.5 seconds per spin, the banning of slot feature Turbo Play which allows users to speed up their game, the ban of multi-slot play which allows users to play multiple games at the same time, and the implementation of additional mandatory checks on players’ activity.
What’s more, the BGC will explore ways the online gambling industry can better label games so players can understand its key terms. This, as highlighted by the BGC, will be done via game design research labs.
The Betting and Gaming Council has also announced it’s working with academics, regulators, consumers, and individuals who have experienced with gambling-related harm to identify best practice in the design of casino games and to ensure that the code of conduct is kept up to date with the latest technological advancements.
Speaking about the new code of conduct, Michael Dugher, the Chief Executive of the BGC, said in a statement: “The BGC was set up last year with the aim of leading a race to the top in terms of standards within the regulated betting industry.
“The new Game Design Code of Conduct is yet another example of our determination to address concerns head-on and meet our safer gambling commitments. I’m sure that our members will embrace this approach and commit to its objective of improving player safety.”
He added: “And as we prepare for the forthcoming Gambling Review, it is further evidence of our industry’s commitment to improving standards – unlike the completely unregulated black market.”
The BGC’s new code of conduct comes amid calls for the tighter regulation of online casino games as part of a move to drive up standards and stamp down on the number of users developing gambling-related harm.
The news also comes after the Peers for Gambling Reform, one of the largest groups within the House of Lords, launched a new campaign calling for several changes to be made within the online gambling industry.
The Peers for Gambling Reform’s campaign included several suggestions such as a ban on direct marketing, more effective affordability checks on customers, a mandatory levy on the gambling industry, a new gambling ombudsman, the implementation of gambling regulation for loot boxes in video games, an overhaul of the VIP and loyalty schemes at online casinos.
Finally, the Peer for Gambling Reform suggested that the industry implements a limit on the speed of play, more advanced testing of all gambling products, a review of stake limits, and an NHS-led system to help treat gambling addiction.
The news also comes after the UK Government implemented a 10 PM curfew across England, requiring all hospitality venues including brick-and-mortar casinos to shut at 10 PM in order to minimise the spread of COVID-19.
Prior to the announcement of the curfew, the BGC estimated that around 14,000 jobs within the gambling industry were at risk as a result of the curfew since most casinos do more than 70% of their trade after 10 PM.
More than 20 London-based casinos issued an open letter to London Mayor Sadiq Khan offering to close their bars and restaurants at 10 PM to avoid having to completely close, and the BGC and other members of the industry urged the UK Government to extend the furlough scheme to aid the industry and its employees.
Following Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s announcement of a Job Support Scheme as part of his Winter Economy Plan, the BGC issued a statement welcoming the news but asserting that casinos in the UK would prefer to trade rather than rely on Government subsidies.
The scheme, which is set to start on November 1st, will help pay employee wages for those working at least one-third of their contracted hours.
Speaking about Sunak’s Job Support Scheme on the BGC website, Michael Dugher said: “The Chancellor has gone some way towards providing support for casinos, who are an important part of the hospitality, leisure, and tourism industries that will help power the country’s economic recovery. We asked for his help, and we’re pleased that he has listened.
“However, given the unique challenge that the curfew presents to an industry which does between 50 and 70 per cent of its trade after 10 PM, the package as it stands does not alleviate much of the sector’s concerns. Casinos have suffered considerable blows in recent days and weeks and will need all the support they can get to be able to play their part in the recovery of towns, cities and communities.”
He continued: “The wage subsidy scheme will help in some way as the industry continues to reel from the curfew restrictions. Operators would far rather be able to trade than rely on subsidies, but after a gruelling few days, this is some respite.
“Casinos are very proud of the high number of viable jobs that they sustain and now have a better chance of emerging on the other side of this curfew period, thanks to the Chancellor’s scheme.”