GamCare data has revealed that the percentage of people calling the National Gambling Helpline for online slots gambling support has nearly doubled in the last five years.
With this data in mind and in response to the UK government’s gambling white paper consultation, the gambling support charity is calling for the maximum stake for online slots to be set at £2.
The data indicated that 73 per cent of the 5,660 callers to the National Gambling Helpline last year struggled with online gambling.
Of those who contacted the helpline last year, 60 per cent reported online slots as one of the main gambling activities they were struggling with, which is up from 34 per cent in 2018-19.
Meanwhile, the proportion of people citing challenges with betting exchanges has risen from 0.3 per cent to 7.6 per cent over the last five years. The percentage of gamblers having problems with online financial markets such as cryptocurrency and high-risk trading platforms has increased from 0.02 per cent to 2.17 per cent.
However, the proportion of those who have had difficulties with online sports betting has decreased, falling from 34 per cent in 2018-19 to 20 per cent in 2022-23.
GamCare releases these data points on people struggling with online slots as the UK government consults on introducing maximum stake limits for online slot games, financial risk checks, player protection and slot design.
Part of the proposed changes include setting a maximum stake range for slots of £2 up to £15 per spin, as well as greater protections for 18-to-24-year-olds.
In response to the consultations, GamCare has asked for the maximum stake for online slots to be set at £2, extra operator vigilance for people aged 18-24, more comprehensive measures to reduce gambling-related harm (slot design, net time and loss displays and improved marketing), and online casino games to have a £2 maximum stake as well.
Colin Walsh, GamCare’s Lived Experience Manager, commented: “There is still a perception that gambling harm predominantly comes from betting on horses or sports events.
“In the past five years, we have broadly seen a trend where people often start gambling on these activities but eventually transition into other areas of online gambling, where it can be easy to lose sight of how much time and money is being spent.
“The data highlights that it is now disproportionately online slots that are the main challenge for many people who call the National Gambling Helpline.”
Walsh continued: “I know from my own experience – and the experiences of those in my network – how difficult this form of gambling can be, and how isolating it can feel if you find yourself caught in a negative cycle.
“But I also know that it is possible to get through it and that there is free help for anyone struggling with it.”