With UK slot players set to face stricter stake limits following the latest measures taken by the UK government, the importance of rapid innovation has been highlighted by the industry.  

With under-25s facing £2 stake limits to be introduced in September, and £5 limits facing those over 25, we spoke with two UK-based slot studios to gauge their reaction to the regulatory update. 

In this regulatory update, Henry McLean, Co-Founder and Marketing Director at 4ThePlayer, and Daniel Lamond, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer at Rogue, discuss the impact that online slot stake limits will have on innovation within the UK gambling industry and the wider slot sector. 

What are your thoughts on the UK government’s new online slot stake limits?

Daniel Lamond: Ultimately, we all want a safe and sustainable market for players. I can understand why some people have reacted negatively to the announcement. But, for a small studio like ourselves that can react and innovate quickly to changes like these, they have to be looked at as an opportunity to rebalance the scales against the massive game suppliers. 

Henry McLean: We appreciate the government’s proactive steps to ensure responsible gambling, especially among young adults. Any data-driven measures that can prevent gambling harm are welcomed.

How has your company been preparing for these stricter UK measures? 

HM: 4ThePlayer was always set up with responsible gaming in mind – for example, we offer bets as low as 10p on nearly all our games. With that in mind, we have not had to specifically prepare for these stricter measures. 

Also, on the operator side, a lot of UK operators have been expecting these changes and have been adjusting since the early consultation began some years ago.

However, it should also be noted that the average bet in the UK across all our games is below £1 already, so the majority of our players will not be impacted.

DL: We are constantly coming up with new ideas and many of these have focused on potential stake limits in the UK. We have some concepts that can sit alongside existing slots and allow players to enjoy similar profiles and win frequencies without having to stake up. 

We have also been focusing on many non-traditional style games for a while with this in mind and have some brilliant mechanics coming up. 

How do you think the UK government’s slot stake limits will impact your company’s content production?

HM: The new stake limits will not impact our game design as our focus is always on driving entertainment rather than maximising profit from every player.  

The entertainment experiences we create are underpinned by exceptional maths that take the player on a journey. As I mentioned, we offer lower bets than a lot of our competitors, and because of this, our games have been balanced so that players on lower stakes will still have a great experience. 

DL: It won’t impact our production at all, but I do think that pushing the boundaries of new game types will become more exciting. Even before the announcement, we had seen a great appetite from operators for alternatives to slot games and this will continue to grow. The bravest and most creative studios will benefit. 

Will slot suppliers with a strong presence in the UK need to make any significant changes to their work due to these regulatory changes? 

DL: There are always significant changes needed when new regulations are introduced. The more established suppliers with more games will be hit the heaviest, which also impacts their available resources to innovate and find creative solutions.  

Do you think the new stake limits will cause a lack of slots that are tailored to UK audiences?

HM: I don’t think so, these changes will not diminish the variety and quality of slots for UK audiences. Instead, it will encourage creativity and responsible innovation in the industry. 

Hopefully, it will also drive more game suppliers to balance their games to allow lower bets. 

It might also drive more suppliers to have lower feature frequency as players are staking less and cannot necessarily use side bets to bring in the feature frequency.

This is something we have been looking at. For example, in 3 Lucky Leprechauns and 3 Lucky Witches, which were specifically designed for the UK market, the main feature frequency is one in 75 spins – that frequency is signposted to the player. This is substantially less than our competitors and players notice and appreciate it.

DL: I think this is something that has increasingly been happening for a while now and, as a player myself, the concern is that it will only escalate but I think that we are in a great position. 

Our model of creating completely new mechanics that can generate a whole suite of games means that we can build maths and games that can focus on different markets and regulations quickly. 

What impact will the stake limits have on suppliers’ relationships with UK operators? 

HM: We are fortunate enough to have very strong relationships with UK operators already, and these changes will not impact that. 

The change that might occur is that some global operators might leave the UK market altogether.  We see this every time there is a change in regulation.

DL: Most likely it will cause UK suppliers to manoeuvre even closer to the suppliers that can offer more bespoke, market-focussed offerings and be creative in their approach to game design. 

Is there a worry that these stake limits could have an impact on player engagement and revenue generation? 

DL: If it is approached without any inventiveness then there is a real danger that some players could become disillusioned and look elsewhere, but the vast majority of our slot stakes are well within the limits already.  

HM: While there may be initial concerns about player engagement and revenue, we strongly believe that promoting responsible gaming can enhance long-term player trust and sustainability in the industry. 

We want healthy, happy players that can enjoy gaming.

How do you think the UK stake limits will influence the evolution of slot gaming and its regulation on a worldwide scale? 

HM: The UK’s approach to regulating online slots could set a precedent for other jurisdictions – a lot of other jurisdictions look at what we are doing in the UK.  

That said, other recent updates such as the bonus buy and autoplay bans have not been implemented in other jurisdictions, so we shall see.

DL: Other regulated markets will be watching closely but the most immediate influence will be in the innovations that this spawns.

Last week, SBC held a webinar titled ‘What’s at stake? Adapting to lower statutory slot limits‘ which saw industry experts debate whether the UK online stake limits will produce much in the way of problem gambling, or whether they’re seen as a “missed chance” to better align regulation.