The UK features one of the world’s most robust gaming markets. It offers countless land-based and online casinos.
This market is so extensive, in fact, that UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) feels the need to limit it to protect problem gamblers. Banning credit card payments in mobile and land-based casinos was one of the first steps in this effort.
Now, regulators are going directly after online slot machines. Starting Oct. 31st, 2021, the following changes will go into effect:
- Slowing the rate of play
- Eliminating exciting sound effects following losses
If you love slots the way that they are, then you may wonder if these changes are a good idea. Here’s a closer look at how these measures will impact UK mobile slots.
What to Expect From These Changes
One of the biggest changes involves the play rate. Developers will need to ensure that real money online slots space out spins by at least 2.5 seconds.
As a result, British gamblers will need to wait longer before spinning the reels. They’ll have extra time to contemplate how much longer they wish to play.
Developers commonly put triumphant sound effects behind any win—large or small. These sounds even play when a win isn’t even really a win.
Some of these payouts are actually what’s called losses disguised as wins (LDWs). The latter phenomenon occurs when one wins a prize that’s worth less than their spin cost.
Why Are Regulators Imposing These Measures?
The UK is implementing these new measures to reduce problem gambling. They feel that both fast play rates and exciting sound effects following losses cause people to gamble more.
Nigel Huddleston, the country’s Sports Minister, spoke with The Guardian about the latest regulations involving mobile slots.
“Today’s steps will help curb the intensity of online gambling, introducing greater protections that will reduce the risk of gambling related harm,” he said.
“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.”
Huddleston and other regulators see the latest changes as means to protect problem players. In turn, they hope to reduce gambling addiction.
The commission’s numbers show that the average online slots player spends £67 a month. This number is much higher than the £36 spent on other casino games and £45 on sports betting each month.
Of course, British mobile gaming sites have definitely benefited from this increased play. Their revenue has grown from £2.36 billion in 2016 to £3.18 billion in 2020. Online slots account for 70% of the £3.18b.
The Guardian cited a study showing that 8.5% of mobile slots players are considered addicts, versus just 4% of internet sports bettors.
Slot Machines Have an Extremely Fast Play Rate
Slots are among the fastest games in the casino. They play at such a quick rate that one can log anywhere from 600 to 1,000 spins per hour.
Much of the play rate depends upon the individual game. After all, some slots have more animations and features than others.
Nevertheless, slot machines generally move at a quicker rate than other casino games. Unless you’re purposely trying to slow down your play, you’ll log lots of spins every hour.
Basic gambling math shows that players stand to lose more money with a faster play rate. After all, mobile slots are negative expectation games.
Here are examples that show how much more gamblers can lose at a faster rate:
- A gambler plays an online slot with a 4% house edge.
- They spin the reels 800 per hour.
- They wager $1 per spin.
- 800 x 1 x 0.04 = $32 in theoretical hourly losses
- The gambler plays another online slot with a 4% house edge.
- They spin the reels 600 per hour.
- They again wager $1 per spin.
- 600 x 1 x 0.04 = $24 in theoretical hourly losses
Exciting Noises During Wins Lead to LDWs
Most slots feature hit rates ranging between 30% and 40%. Therefore, they don’t have very high win frequency when compared to the average casino game.
Some of these payouts aren’t even true wins. They merely fall into the aforementioned LDWs category. One wouldn’t, after all, describe a $0.30 payout on a $1 bet as a win.
Slots developers realize that many players could do the math on LDWs. They counteract this by including exciting sounds behind any win.
Gamblers, meanwhile, may begin relying on the sounds rather than math to determine wins. They play at such quick rates that they don’t stop to process each spin.
With that said, the triumphant sound effects and fast playing speeds combine for a brutal attack on one’s bankroll. Certain players simply keep spinning the reels while thinking that they’re racking lots of wins.
Will the New Measures Ultimately Help UK Gamblers?
UK gaming regulators are attacking two main aspects that lead to major slots losses. They very well might make a difference with their latest measures.
Problem gamblers have a difficult time accounting for losses during a gaming session. Their troubles only multiply when they don’t have time to comprehend losses.
The slower rate of play will really help in this regard. It’ll force players to take longer during spins and think more after losses.
The elimination of triumphant sounds following wins will also help. After all, these sounds are meant to make players feel like every win is special—no matter how small it may be.
Of course, problem gamblers need more than just slow moving slot machines and fewer sound effects. But these new regulations will still offer benefits to struggling players.
What Else to Watch Out for With Slots
Fast play and sound effects are the only things that can accelerate losses. Here are other factors to look out for when playing mobile slot machines.
Animations During Losses
Exciting sounds during LDWs are accompanied by animations as well. The latter can show coins bursting from the reels or winning symbols spinning around.
In either case, these animations are meant to make you feel like a winner. But they can also occur when you’ve actually lost money on a spin.
Much like with the sound effects, you need to look past the animations when determining if you’ve actually won anything. The key is to take pause and do the math on “wins.”
30 paylines used to be quite bit for slot machines. Nowadays, this amount is actually low compared to today’s games.
Megaway slots, for example, commonly feature up to 117,649 ways or more. Assuming you unlock all of these ways, then you have countless paths to winning.
Of course, you won’t win with the vast majority of these ways. You’ll even see plenty of empty spins that results in no prizes.
With that said, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that more paylines or ways equates to numerous payouts. Instead, you should realize that such games will feature just as many LDWs as any other.
The Slots Trance
Some of the previous aspects described before, such as exciting sound effects and entertaining animations, can put you in a trance.
Some people refer to this phenomenon as a slots trance. It causes you to tune out your surroundings and only focus on the game at hand.
Obviously this can wreak havoc on your bankroll when considering that you’re dealing with negative-expectation games.
The UK’s efforts to slow down play rates could help some players avoid the slots trance. If you’re not in the UK, though, then you can always set an alarm on your phone. Doing so will help snap you back into reality from time to time.
Mobile slots are entertaining games that include fun bonuses, cool themes, and big payouts. However, they can also be addicting to some players.
The UKGC is taking steps to curb addiction and keep slots fun for all players—rather than a problem. A slower play rate and lack of LDWs sound effects should help.
The slower play speed will prevent gamblers from mindlessly spinning the reels at a rapid rate. No sounds after losses will keep players from thinking that LDWs are truly wins.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. …