UK Gamblers Seeking Help Because of Online Slot Games Skyrockets

  • 60% of gamblers say online slots are a gambling activity they struggle with most
  • Gamblers struggling with online sports bets have dropped from 34% to 20% in five years
  • Perception is that gambling harm is done through horse racing or sports betting
Slot machine
The number of UK online gamblers needing help due to slot games has doubled in five years, according to data. [Image:]

Gamblers are struggling

The number of online gamblers seeking support in the UK because of slot-related games has doubled in the past five years.

60% of 5,660 callers indicated that online slots were one of the main activities they struggled with

The UK’s National Gambling Helpline said 60% of 5,660 callers indicated that online slots were one of the main activities they struggled with when it came to online gambling. According to the service’s operator GamCare, this was a rise of 34% from 2018-2019.

A further 73% of callers said they had struggled with online gambling. People struggling with betting exchanges also increased from 0.3% to 7.6% over the past five years. Gamblers seeking help from crypto and high-risk trading platforms rose from 0.02% to 2.17% during the same timeframe.

However, the number of gamblers struggling with online sports betting has decreased. In 2018-2019, it was 34% and in 2022-23, it had dropped to 20%.

Slot stakes limit

The data from GamCare comes at a time when the UK government has issued a stakes limit on online slots.

easy to lose sight of how much time and money is being spent

Colin Walsh from GamCare said there remains a perception that harm from gambling is done through betting on horses or at sporting events. He added that while people often start with these activities, they often move into other areas of online gambling “where it can be easy to lose sight of how much time and money is being spent.”

In April, the government released its much-anticipated gambling white paper detailing its gambling reform designed to bring the Gambling Act 2005 into the present day. The white paper includes an online slot staking limit of between £2 ($2.49) and £15 ($18.67) per spin, with gamblers under the age of 25 likely subject to a more stringent limit than average.

Before the staking limit, there was no statutory limit for online slots.

Affordability checks are a “complete mess”

In light of the government’s white paper, some independent bookmakers have come out to express concern. Many are of the view that they may have to carry out affordability checks on customers in betting shops.

This is despite the UK Gambling Commission assuring that affordability checks would only be carried out by those betting online and not at retail bookmakers or racecourses. One independent bookmaker said affordability checks were a “complete mess.”

If betting shops are required to conduct affordability checks, there are fears that this could push bettors to the black market.

In fact, 73% of 296 respondents indicated that they would consider using the black market if they were required to hand over more private information to bookmakers in order to continue betting, according to figures from the Horseracing Bettors Forum.

In a bid to alleviate concerns, Andrew Rhodes, chief executive of the Gambling Commission, said that enhanced affordability checks would only be conducted on around 3% of all betting accounts.

“They would not apply to betting in bookmakers or at the racetrack,” he said.

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