UK Consumers Back Restrictions, As Long As They Affect Others More

August 16, 2022
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​​​​​​​New research suggests UK customers support more restrictions on their gambling, so long as they affect other people more than themselves.

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New research suggests UK customers support more restrictions on their gambling, so long as they affect other people more than themselves.

The Gambling Commission’s “Consumer voice 2020” research was undertaken by market research firm CV2 and explores online staking behaviour, views on stake limits and other alternative limits for online gambling.

Research participants that were least at risk felt they would be unaffected by stake restrictions, while moderate-risk and problem gamblers would find it inconvenient and believed they would lose some of the fun.

Only moderate-risk gamblers were against the idea.

But the majority of those surveyed said that although they supported the idea of stake limits in general, they believed they would benefit “other people” more than themselves.

CV2 concluded that any limits that are introduced should be determined by the outcome they want to achieve.

“If the goal is for people to stop and think about their playing, avoid falling into familiar harmful behaviours, and limit the harm caused by related factors (such as alcohol), then increased friction such as stake limits, deposit limits, and loss limits are felt to be most suitable,” according to CV2.

These options included affordability checks and less popular ideas such as session speed limits, duration limits and play and/or spin limits, all of which participants perceived to damage the enjoyment that players value.

Researchers warned all these options also “suffered from concerns from participants over the practicality of implementation”.

“Alternatively, if the goal is to prevent overspending, to avoid people chasing losses to their detriment, and to guarantee harm prevention, absolute limits such as affordability checks and weekly and/or monthly limits are more suitable,” CV2 said.

These options can also create a number of issues regulators must consider, such as the effectiveness of limits without means testing and the fear that at-risk gamblers will play on unlicensed sites.

It should be noted the research sample size was small, consisting of 32 online gamblers that took part in a 14-day online exercise, meaning the results may not reflect the views of the wider population.

Online gambling regulations in the UK have been getting tighter in recent years, with major changes to online slot games in place since October 2021, such as making sure there are at least 2.5 seconds between each spin and removing “auto-play” features.

These changes, along with other industry self-imposed measures, have taken their toll on the gambling industry.

UK online gambling revenue across reporting operators fell by 17.6 percent in the year to June 2022, with significantly depleted rates of spend per active player caused by affordability measures.

More recently, 888 CEO Itai Pazner said the company’s 13 percent year-over-year revenue decline in its interim results “reflects market conditions in the UK”.

“However, we believe the proactive actions we have taken to increase player protections and drive higher standards of player safety have put the group in an even stronger position for the future,” Pazner said.

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