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The UK government will introduce a £2 stake limit for 18- to 24-year-olds playing online slots, alongside a £5 stake limit for adults aged 25 and over.

The decision follows a 10-week consultation period, during which the majority of respondents supported the proposal outlined in the gambling white paper

The aim is to reduce the risk of gambling harm associated with online slot games, including the potential of large losses, extended play sessions, and binge playing. 

Unlike land-based gaming machines in the UK, online slots currently have no statutory stake limits.

The limits will come into force in September. 

Operators will have a six-week transition period to comply with the general £5 stake limit rules, followed by an additional six weeks to develop any necessary technical solutions to ensure full compliance with the lower £2 stake limit for young adults aged 18 to 24.

Higher problem gambling rate

The government said the lower stake limit for young adults, set at £2 per spin, reflects the age group’s higher average problem gambling score compared to other demographics. 

Factors such as lower disposable income, ongoing neurological development affecting risk perception, and common life stage challenges like managing money for the first time all contribute to their vulnerability. 

Evidence also suggests a stronger correlation between gambling-related harm and suicide among young adults.

Gambling minister Stuart Andrew (pictured) 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,” he added. 

A concerning trend

GambleAware CEO Zoë Osmond praised the government’s move as a crucial step in protecting young people from the harms of online gambling.

“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,” she said. 

The stake limits represent just some of the proposals outlined in the government’s white paper to modernise the gambling sector. 

Other proposals include the introduction of a statutory levy for research, prevention and treatment, as well as the much-discussed affordability checks

The government said responses to the wider white paper measures will be published soon.

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