As the Government consulted on proposals for land-based gambling and gaming machines, our lived experience community urged that any changes must put player protections at the centre.
Electronic Gaming Machines (EGMs) – a machine for individual gambling – can be both addictive and present an increased risk of losing more money, more quickly.
In fact, in 2022, EGMs generated the UK gambling industry £1.8 billion in Gross Gambling Yield (GGY), and were played by 7% of the total gambling population, according to the Gambling Commission Industry Statistics.
We have welcomed many of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s proposals to strengthen player protections in the land-based gambling sector. The proposals to introduce time and monetary limits to play, increased card account verification, staff alerts when mandatory limits are hit, and restricting access to Category D (low stakes) machines for under 18s, all represent a move in the right direction towards protecting players from harm.
However, here at GamCare we’ve been hearing concerns from our audiences that some of the proposals may increase levels of gambling-related harm.
We’re advocating for safer gambling measures to be implemented consistently across all land-based settings, including casinos, arcades and bingo premises, and are highlighting the need to enhance player protections for those using EGMs.
Our consultation response highlights:
- Changes to the number of electronic gaming machines: We’re concerned that the proposal to allow more electronic gaming machines with higher stakes across premises could increase gambling-related harms. The Local Government Association has raised concerns that there’s already an existing lack of local government power to manage gambling premises, and the new proposals could potentially worsen the situation.
- Player protections: Our audiences are telling us that they want to see stronger player protections in land-based gambling premises, including setting monetary and time limits on machines, deposit limits and automated breaks in play to interrupt the rapid and continuous pace of play. They also want to see more consistent and effective safer gambling messaging, staff alerts when limits are reached, as well as a display of net position and time to be visible and prominent at all times.
- Cashless payments: We know that cashless payment methods are already associated with increased spend on land-based gambling by comparison with cash. Our audiences are telling us that card account verification should therefore be required for every transaction, and a maximum deposit limit should be set to avoid unintended spending consequences for individuals.
- ‘Cash-out’ machine age limits: Our lived experience community have highlighted that early exposure to cash-out Category D slot machines may represent a heightened risk for children and young people as a gateway into harmful-gambling later in life. They are clear that these machines should therefore be restricted to over 18s.
As the government now considers next steps, we will continue making the case for stronger and more consistent player protections in the land-based sector and wider sectors.