New online slot stake limits “a missed opportunity to stop the deaths”

The Department for Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) is expected to announce stake limits for online slot games on Friday 23 Feb. The new limits are expected to be £2 for under-25s, and £5 a spin for over-25s. 

But campaigners have been calling for stake limits of £2 or less across the board, with many seeing the £5 limit for over 25s as a “missed opportunity” to reduce the harm caused by these highly addictive products. 

Charles Ritchie, Gambling with Lives co-founder, said: 

“The £2 limit for under 25s is a step in the right direction, but £5 for over 25s is another missed opportunity to stop the harm to millions and the devastation caused by gambling suicides. 

“Stake limit reductions offer some limited reduction in harm but the products are very toxic and need to be made safer, so we also need a reduction in spin speeds, affordability checks, and proper public health information about the dangers.”

There’s currently no limit on the amount that gamblers can stake on online slots. In 2019 the government acknowledged the danger to the public from electronic gambling and reduced stakes on the equivalent machines in bookies (FOBTs) from £100 to £2. 

Changes to stake size were proposed in the white paper of the Gambling Act Review, released last April, before going out to consultation in the lead-up to Friday’s expected announcement. 

The UK public loses £3.2 billion every year on online slots, which account for almost 30% of online revenue despite a low participation of around 1% of gamblers.  

The percentage of people who seek treatment for gambling addiction using online slots has been rising steadily for 8 years, illustrating the serious harm caused by these products, some of which have addiction and at-risk rates of 45%

There are up to 1.44 million adults addicted to gambling in the UK, with the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities estimating there are between 117 and 496 suicides related to gambling every year in England.  

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