UKGC Updated Safer Gambling Design Standards

The gambling design standards continue to change as the UKGC beefs up its activities to enforce stricter measures for protecting vulnerable players. According to the commission, all policies are designed with protecting players as the priority, and operators must comply with all enforced gambling standards to ensure the measures yield targeted objectives. 

As a result, the UKGC has introduced various laws in recent months, significantly changing the gambling design and landscape. Should be mentioned, that those restrictions and rules are only applied to UK licensed sites and you can find many online casinos without UK licence on which work with players from the United Kingdom and offer more freedom. Here is an overview of their safer gambling design standard and overhauls affecting the user experience. 

Banning Technologies that Speed Up Gameplay

Casino games use various technologies, including features that speed up the gameplay. As of October 2020, all UKGC casinos are banned from featuring games that feature such technologies. Slots that spin within less than 2.5 seconds have also been banned as part of the new design standard. According to the commission, prohibiting such features will make the gambling experience less intense and much safer for players, giving them more control over the activity. Players no longer have the option to speed up play, which extends the gambling duration for each bet and reduces the total bets one can make within a given period.

The Gambling Commission also banned technologies that count wins as losses. This includes all sounds and visual displays that give the impression of a win when the actual return is equal or less than the stake. For many years, such features have been part of virtual games and physical slot machines. For instance, the player can bet a total of £20 on a slot, roulette, or other virtual game and land an outcome that pays back £15. Most game designs will trigger buzzing sounds and visuals of excitement, immediately notifying the player of their win. In reality, the player has just lost £5 and shouldn’t be impressed about winning £15 back. Using such features mask the actual outcome of a spin and may encourage vulnerable players to continue betting, despite losing money.

Banning Autoplay from All Slots

Slots are the most popular casino games and exist in the thousands. However, slots also have the highest losses compared to other gambling products. Players often lose track of how many spins they’ve made because of intermittent wins. Most punters also eye the big payouts and are further temped when they hear news about record-breaking payouts when lucky players walk away with millions. Unfortunately, paying slots can result in huge losses if the player fails to track their expenditure and activity. All real money slots feature house edges, with some as high as 10%. Gambling operators mask this by mentioning the average return to player, in this case, 90%, calculated over thousands of events. 

Ultimately, the more spins you make, the more money you’ll lose since the game is designed to return 90% of your stake. So even if the RTP is 99%, on average, you’ll still lose £1 if you bet £100. The autoplay function allows players to schedule up to 500 spins and let the machine do the rest. Unfortunately, this can lead to losing track of the betting activity and suffering huge losses. The UK Gambling Commission together with other regulators around the world has already introduced a ban on autoplay along with slots that spin in less than 2.5 seconds. As such, players must click on the spin button each time they want to place a bet.

Displaying Slot Session Data

For years, players didn’t have a way to tell outright how long they have spent on an online casino game, but this has changed after the UKGC introduced session data displays. As part of the new safer gambling design standards, all slots must now feature conspicuous displays of how long the session has lasted and how much money they have lost or won. This display acts as a reminder and can prompt players to stop betting once the activity before the activity becomes a liability. Adding session data displays is a crucial step to giving players more control and helping them to make conscious decisions regarding their betting behaviour during each session.

In addition to displaying session data, the commission plans to enforce regulations that will allow game providers to integrate opt-outs, such as deposit and time limits. For example, providers can incorporate API functionalities that enable casinos to give players the chance to set the gambling time limit or maximum losses for each session. With such features, players can make better decisions before playing and receive notifications once they reach the set limit. Casinos must then prohibit them from continuing play until another session is created. Notifications should suspend gameplay and prompt the player to choose whether they want to quit or continue gambling. Such requirements are yet to be enforced, but session time and losses/wins displays are already mandatory. 

Other Standards and Regulations

The UK Gambling Commission introduced several new standards and is currently on the verge of a remarkable overhaul of the gambling regulations. The commission banned the reverse withdrawals option from all its casinos and sportsbooks and ended credit card gambling. It is also planning new rules to limit how much players can stake on every spin and eliminate free bets promotions. The goal remains to “make online games safer”, and operators are called upon to comply with all regulations to curb gambling harm. Other potential changes include affordability checks that target players betting more than they can support based on their financial records.


Gambling harm is a major concern in many jurisdictions, and the UKGC must keep refining its laws to adapt to new challenges and offer players a safer environment. The commission seeks to create awareness and enforce practices that will result in a sustainable industry where everyone does their bit to protect at-risk players from falling into a gambling problem. Based on the current gambling regulations review, operators and punters can expect massive changes soon.