How changes to online video slots regulations affect game hosts
Online gambling is big business in the UK. For the six-month period from April to September 2020, the remote gaming sector – that is, the side of the industry that includes online casino games, online video slots and online bingo – accounted for gross turnover of £3.1 billion. Online betting accounts for more than half of all UK punter spending, and the majority of that spending is on video slot games.
But while slot machines are the most successful of all virtual gaming machines available, they are also the most controversial. The nature of these games – they are fast-paced and allow a player to play and lose large stakes of up to £100 per spin in some cases – have made them the target of anti-gambling groups and charities. And under pressure to reduce problem gambling rates, the UK government is set to add new restrictions on how they can be built and marketed in the latest review of gambling legislation in the UK. country.
Here we explain what makes slots so addictive and discuss measures the government could introduce to limit their use in the UK and how this will affect the entertainers whose role it is to design the games.
Why Are Video Slots Addictive?
Like all gambling activities, video slots cause a dopamine surge in our brains when we win. Dopamine makes us euphoric, so there is a chemical event as well as a financial event that rewards us if we win on a slot machine.
But it’s not just the event itself that’s causing the rush. Video slots have been designed to make that winning moment even more euphoric with the sounds and on-screen animations that accompany every payout.
If you’ve ever hit a big jackpot on an online slot, you might have noticed animations of hundreds of coins falling on the screen, while flashing lights and loud noises also go wild.
And what makes these games even more appealing is also the quick release of these rewards. Unlike Blackjack, in which a hand can take a minute to play, each spin of the reels happens in seconds, so in a winning streak we get the dopamine hit again and again in a short period of time, intensifying the rush even further. And it doesn’t matter that each win is only small and far from the huge jackpot promised by the casino. All it takes is a little payment and another little hit of dopamine to keep us going.
And of course, when we lose, we get frustrated. But rather than giving up, some will keep chasing after that next victory and the next blow.
If you take a look at one of online slots sites and load one of the games, you will see how sophisticated modern game developers have become in designing games that will produce an experience that will give the game the ultimate kick. The slot machines are carefully designed with themes, animations , storylines and characters we can relate to and easily remember for next time. The events on the reels are lively, colorful and loud.
In short, everything is designed to trigger those psychological triggers to keep us coming back again and again.
The risk for drug addicts
Of course, many online games are built like this. Think of the classic mobile game from the Candy Crush saga as a good example. But the difference here is that video slots are real money games played for cash prizes.
And they can spend money in no time.
In this regard, for an online casino operator, an online video slot machine is the perfect money-making machine. It encourages fast and furious play with a barrage of brain-boosting dopamine blasts that leave the player eager to chase more wins even when their balance is low.
For most players, it’s pretty easy to walk away when this happens. But for a small percentage of gamblers this is never enough and for them online slots pose a significant threat to their well-being. You will find many stories in the media of problem gamblers who have lost £100,000 on online slots.
It is for this reason that the government is planning significant changes to UK gambling laws this year.
Changes in the law affecting the animations of slot games
In fact, some changes have already been introduced in October 2021 to make the design and operation of slot machines less aggressive and dangerous for problem players. These changes included:
- Prohibition of machines with a spin time of less than 2.5 seconds
- A ban on the autoplay feature that allows players to configure the game to spin the reels without any intervention
- A ban on in-game features that create an illusion of control of the outcome
- A ban on animations and sounds suggesting a win when the payout is less than the amount wagered
The key for animators here is the rule that means video slot designers won’t be able to make the player look like they won when they actually won less than they bet , and banning features that appear to show a sense of control over the outcome of any spin. The reason for this latest change is that slots are fixed odds games. This means that there is no way for the player to affect what happens when the reel spins. The outcome depends solely on luck.
So the animators whose role it is to make these games as exciting and euphoric as possible are advised to reduce the style of their work and make the wins less dramatic as well.
What new changes can we expect in 2022 to 2023?
So, these changes have already been introduced to UK gambling sites in 2021. But what about the new gambling law we keep hearing about? How will this affect the style of video slots in this country.
A white paper outlining the government’s proposals for new legislation is due within the next month and it has already been suggested that a major change would be a cap on the stakes. In fact, it’s likely no one will be able to bet more than £2 per spin at a UK online casino, bringing the machines in line with the offline Fixed Odds Betting (FOBT) terminals found at bookmakers. of street.
There are also expected to be bans on advertising gambling brands at sporting events like Premier League matches, and tighter affordability checks for every new player. who signs up for an online gambling brand.
In conclusion – slot machines will continue to be important
Considering all of this, it’s safe to say that online slots may have other restrictions, but as an entertainment experience, they’re not going anywhere. As such, they will always provide a huge opportunity for modern animators to express themselves with stunning visuals and exciting gameplay. At the same time, in the interest of a safer gambling environment, we will continue to see the government restrict some of the more aggressive aspects of these surprisingly sophisticated gambling machines. So if you’re a fan, don’t worry, you can still play, and the thrills will continue, but with less risk!