Online slot stake limit changes have been confirmed by the UK government, with a maximum stake limit of £2 set to be introduced for players aged between 18 and 24 from September this year.

Although this £2 stake limit is the focal point of these changes due to under-25s having “the highest average problem gambling score of any group”, a £5 stake limit is also being introduced for all players over 25.

These stake limits bring them in line with casinos, to reduce “the increased risk of significant harm and life-changing losses from online slot games” as slots “can be associated with large losses, long sessions, and binge play”.

£2 online slot stake limit for under 25s

A £2 stake limit has been introduced for under 25s as this age group has “the highest average problem gambling score of any group, as well as lower disposable income, ongoing neurological development impacting risk perception and common life stage factors like managing money for the first time”. 

The UK government also noted that there is a “stronger link between gambling-related harm and suicide” in young adults.

The new limits have been set out following a 10-week consultation period in which the government says the majority of respondents – who were industry, academics, treatment providers and individuals – agreed with the statutory limits for online slots stated within the gambling white paper

The proposals set out in the white paper, which was published last April, are part of the government’s goal of modernising the gambling sector and making it fit for the digital age.

“Although millions of people gamble safely every single day, the evidence shows that there is a significantly higher problem gambling rate for online slot games,” commented Gambling Minister Stuart Andrew.

“We also know that young adults can be more vulnerable when it comes to gambling-related harms, which is why we committed to addressing both of these issues in our white paper.

“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.”

According to the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, young adults are susceptible to gambling-related harm, as under 25s have the highest average problem gambling score of any age group.

NHS survey figures also state that online gambling on slots, casino or bingo games has a problem gambling rate of 8.7 per cent, one of the highest rates across gambling activities.

GambleAware & BGC back stake limits

“We welcome the Government’s announcement to introduce lower online stake limits for under 25s as an important mechanism to protect young people,” added Zoë Osmond, CEO of GambleAware.

“Our research shows a concerning trend with this age group experiencing an increase in harm arising from gambling and online slots are very high-risk products.

“As we continue our work to tackle this growing public health issue, we will collaborate with the government and others across the gambling harms sector to ensure there are no missed opportunities when it comes to the introduction of robust preventative measures, including new regulations such as these.”

The Betting and Gaming Council has also responded to the online stake limits, with CEO Michael Dugher welcoming the new measures.

Dugher said: “We welcome the government’s decision on new stake limits for online slots games, which provide enhanced protections for young people. The BGC supported the government’s intention to reform stake limits and we fully engaged in the consultation process and the discussions with Ministers that led to these proposals.

“It is important to recognise that measures like this come with a cost to our members and impact their customers. Nothing in the white paper should be viewed in isolation, but instead seen as a total package, and I would urge ministers and the regulator to remain mindful of the overall impact all these changes make for BGC members. 

“We must avoid customers drifting to the unsafe, unregulated black market online if we don’t tread carefully and get the balance of regulation right.”

Transition period details

Following secondary legislation, the limits will come into force later this year in September. 

A six-week transition period will be put in place to allow operators time to be compliant with the £5 stake limit rules, followed by an additional six-week period for “the development of any necessary technical solutions” to be compliant with the £2 limit for young adults aged 18-24. 

The government added that responses to wider measures from the white paper will be published soon.

Additional white paper proposals include ways to support the land-based sector, a statutory levy for research, prevention and treatment, as well as financial risk checks.

Earlier this week, GambleAware published data showing public support for financial risk checks to protect people from gambling-related harm.