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  • Stake limits for online slot games introduced for the first time in September in landmark moment for regulation of online gambling
  • Maximum £2 stake for 18 to 24-year-olds for online slot games to be introduced
  • £5 limit for adults aged 25 and over brings stakes in-line with casinos

Easily accessible online slot games are one of the most addictive forms of gambling, and can be associated with large losses, long sessions, and binge play. Unlike land-based gaming machines, such as in casinos, they have no statutory stake limits.

To counter the increased risk of significant harm and life-changing losses from online slot games, the Government will introduce a £5 stake limit for adults aged 25 and over.

Responding to evidence, a lower level stake limit for young adults aged 18-24 years old will be set at £2 per spin. 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 evidence also points to a stronger link between gambling related harm and suicide among young adults.

The decision follows a 10-week consultation period in which the majority of respondents agreed with the gambling white paper proposal to introduce statutory limits for online slot games to help reduce the risk of gambling harm. Consultation responses included views from industry, academics, treatment providers and individuals.

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Gambling Minister Stuart Andrew said: “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.

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.”

Evidence from the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities shows that young adults can be particularly vulnerable to gambling related harm, with under 25s having the highest average problem gambling score of any age group.

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

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CEO of GambleAware Zoë Osmond said: “We welcome the Government’s announcement to introduce lower online stake limits for under 25s as an important mechanism to protect young people. 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 limits will come into force in September this year, following secondary legislation. There will be a six week transition period for operators to become compliant with the general £5 stake limit rules, followed by a further six weeks for the development of any necessary technical solutions to ensure operators are fully compliant with the lower stake limit of £2 for young adults aged 18-24.

Although most people gamble without issue, the restrictions introduced today are just some of the proposals set out in the Government’s white paper to modernise the gambling sector and make it fit for the digital age.

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This includes the introduction of a statutory levy for research, prevention and treatment, as well as financial risk checks designed to prevent catastrophic, life-changing losses. The Gambling Commission and the Government continue to listen to concerns from campaigners, the wider public, and both the gambling and horse racing industries as part of the consultation process on these checks. The Gambling Commission continues to refine its approach on the design to achieve the right balance between protections and freedoms.

As well as introducing measures to protect people from gambling related harm, the white paper package contains proposals that will support the land-based gambling industry to thrive. The industry supports thousands of jobs across the country and the Government has been clear it does not want to harm its success.

Responses to the wider white paper measures will be published soon.

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