Call for evidence: player protections on Category B gaming machines

Closed 16 May 2019

Opened 21 Feb 2019

Overview

This call for evidence provides an opportunity for the industry to put forward clear plans to meet the challenges set out in the Government's Review of Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures  (the gambling review). It also seeks to gain further insight into the harm prevention measures already afforded to players of Category B gaming machines.

There are clear incentives for the industry to demonstrate a commitment to enhance the effectiveness of player protections on Category B gaming machines. These include the:

  • potential to use player data to understand patterns of play and offer a more personalised customer experience
  • prospect of changes to stakes, prizes and machine allowances where industry can demonstrate that it can manage the risk of gambling-related harm effectively
  • opportunity to focus on what works and pre-empt more direct regulatory intervention, which could entail mandatory controls or a review of key game characteristics such as speed of play.

Despite this, our recent engagement with industry has highlighted two concerning trends:

  1. Efforts to develop a clear framework to trial meaningful controls have been inconsistent and, in some instances, non-existent.
  2. The risks associated with Category B3 machines has been acknowledged by some, but not all sections of the industry.

There has been some progress, with trials to explore different forms of harm prevention such as safer gambling messaging and piloting of tracked play in a number of gambling premises. However, we have seen little evidence of a clear and coherent commitment to explore the risks associated with gambling on all Category B gaming machines. 

On 1 April 2019, the maximum stake on Category B2 gaming machines (FOBTs) will be reduced from £100 to £2. As a result, Category B3 machines, sited in arcades and bingo halls, will offer the same maximum stake level as B2s but at 8 times the speed of play and without the same level of built-in player protections (speed of play refers to the length of time it takes to complete a game cycle. On Category B3 machines each game cycle must last at least 2.5 seconds, compared to a minimum of 20 seconds on B2 machines. A game cycle starts when a player presses the ‘start button’ or otherwise initiates the game, and ends when all money staked or won during the game has either been lost or delivered to, or made available for collection by, the player, and the start button again becomes available to initiate the next game)

In our formal Advice to Government on the gambling review, we said that we would consider extending existing Category B2 protections to Category B1 and B3 machines. We reached this conclusion in the light of indicators from player data that the risks associated with B3 machines are similar to the risks associated with B2 machines. 

We plan to undertake further analysis of Category B machine data to improve our understanding of patterns of play. We intend to:

  • review more recent data to evaluate changes in player behaviour before and after the B2 stake reduction. This will help us to identify whether problematic play on B2s has been diverted onto other category B machines
  • explore options to conduct further analyses in the longer term to monitor the impact of player protection controls on Category B machines.

Audiences

  • Consumer
  • Gambling business

Interests

  • Machines