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Following the UK government’s announcement of £2 online slot stake limits for 18-24 year olds, and £5 for over 25s, EPIC Global Solutions CEO and Founder Paul Buck referred to the measures as a “sticking plaster” that could “cause more harm” than good. 

Taking to LinkedIn to respond to last Friday’s announcement, Buck responded by stating there was “no huge surprise” in the Department of Culture, Media and Sports’ decision. 

He stated: “No huge surprise in what was announced today by DCMS, but it does feel like a sticking plaster that hasn’t been particularly well thought through. Probably the first of quite a few as the White Paper is implemented.”

Buck pointed to three issues stemming from the new online slot stake limit measures, suggesting that stringent limits on what customers can play with may invoke other aspects of problem gambling, such as longer playing times. 

“Gambling is not only a financial issue,” Buck’s post read, “it is every bit as much about time and cognition, and how much you use of each.

“The £2 slot limit has merit for under 25s, and a £5 slot limit will reduce some harm, but not nearly as much as some people are spouting/hoping. 

“All it will do in some cases is make people gamble for longer. Average session length is currently 17 minutes, that will probably grow now and that in itself will psychologically engage people longer, which affects addiction.”

Buck also referred to the constant threat of the black market, suggesting that illicit companies will be “rubbing their hands at this as an opportunity to engage with punters who don’t like these restrictions.”

He said: “The unregulated black market is real: this has been overplayed in some cases and massively underplayed in others. EPIC Global Solutions have 24 team members who have had serious gambling problems and is the leading employer of people with lived experience of gambling harms globally. 

“Although we have over 150 years of recovery amongst us, we still get hundreds of black market operator emails every month. 

“They aren’t interested in £2 or £5 slot limits, in fact they’re rubbing their hands at this as an opportunity to engage with punters who don’t like these restrictions. [The measures are] a sticking plaster that could cause more harm by driving people to the unregulated black market operators who will undoubtedly target players in the UK more now.”

Concluding his statement, Buck suggested that US gambling companies and, in particular, regulators must take note of “mistakes made in Europe” through “vice-like regulations” that are “ill thought-through” and likely “difficult to reverse”.

Buck Continued: “The USA gambling industry take note, you have an opportunity to have the biggest and safest gambling industry in the world. But that opportunity is now, not in 12, 24 or 36 months. Mistakes were made in Europe and now regulators and governments are applying vice-like regulations, which may well prove to be ill thought through, but will be difficult to reverse. 

“Make the same mistakes, but on a much larger scale, and these same regulations will follow as public, political and media sentiment turns away from you. Time to be proactive now.

“Time will tell how effective, or ineffective, today’s announcement turns out to be. Hopefully metrics are in place to measure how much harm is reduced or indeed increases. 

“For now, is this the first of a number of missed opportunities in the coming months and years that could do more harm than good. There is already some great work going on by some operators, I hope this doesn’t disincentive them to do more.”