The UK Government Announces Stake Limits on Online Slot Games


by Philip Kelly, Compliance Analyst

On 23rd February, the UK Government announced the decision to introduce stake limits for the first time. From September 2024, online slot games shall be limited to £5 per spin for adults aged 25 or over, and £2 for 18–24-year-olds. This announcement was made following a 10-week consultation, the first resulting from publication of the Gambling White Paper in April 2023.

Though this strategy will cost the UK gambling industry a substantial amount in revenue(up to £170million annually by Government calculations), it is intended that these measures will increase protection against problem gambling and addiction, especially in young adults who have the highest average problem gambling score of any demographic, according to the Government and supported by statistics published by GamCare, which stated that 0.9% of young people (equating to c.497,700 18-24 year olds) are engaged in problematic gambling, with an additional 2.4% at risk. This, partnered with a lower disposable income average, can have a significant impact on a young adult’s life, with evidence pointing to a stronger link between gambling related harm and suicide, including a reported 42% annual rise in demand for NHS gambling, plus more than 400 gambling related suicides recorded in England in 2022.

In a press release, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said online slot machines were “associated with large losses, long sessions, and binge play” and are considered one of the most addictive forms of gambling, since like addictive drugs such as cocaine, heroin, nicotine and alcohol, slot game design (incl. flash-light display, arcade sound and potential jackpots wins) encourages gambling and activates the brain's reward system, which is powered by dopamine, a neurotransmitter inside the brain that reinforces sensations of pleasure and connects those sensations to certain behaviours or actions.

It said the decision to impose a lower limit for under-25s was based on evidence showing higher rates of problem gambling among younger people, who also have lower disposable income and whose brains are still developing, affecting their assessment of risk and are at high risk of developing gaming problems.

Currently, there is no limit on the amount gamblers can stake per spin, but operators will have a six-week transitions period from September to become compliant with the new rules. This will be followed by a further six weeks for the development of any necessary technical solutions to ensure operators are fully compliant with the new lower stake limits for those aged between 18-24.

The Government’s White Paper set out numerous proposals to enhance the safety of customers when gambling online. Discussing this announcement, Gambling Minister Stuart Andrews said, “The growing popularity of online gambling is clear to see, so this announcement will level the playing field with the land-based sector and is the next step in a host of measures being introduced this year that will protect people from gambling harms.”

With that said, the gambling industry in Great Britain anticipates further changes in the year ahead. Stay tuned for ongoing updates as we navigate these developments. If you would like to learn more or discuss how we can support your compliance requirements, get in touch with us via our Contact Us page.