The online gambling industry has seen a surge in popularity in recent years, particularly among younger audiences. With this growth, many slot providers have introduced new features to enhance the gaming experience and attract new players.
One such feature is the Bonus Buy option, which allows players to purchase immediate access to the slot machine’s lucrative bonus round. However, this feature came under scrutiny in 2019, leading to a ban in the United Kingdom by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).
- The Bonus Buy feature is a popular feature in many online slots that allows players to buy entry into the main bonus feature by paying a fixed fee.
- In 2019, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) banned this feature in the UK due to concerns that it may encourage irresponsible gambling behavior.
- The UKGC's regulations prohibit features that encourage players to chase their losses or increase their stake, the latter definitely being true for the bonus buy feature.
- As per the ban, casinos licensed by the UKGC have been forced to remove the bonus buy feature from their games to avoid being penalized.
- As an alternative, features that offer similar excitement without the risk of promoting irresponsible gambling behavior have become available.
- Players have had mixed opinions about the ban. Some claim that slots are less fun without it, while others have welcomed the ban as it encourages players to spend more money.
The UKGC's Ban on the Bonus Buy Feature
The UKGC is the regulatory body that oversees the gambling industry in the UK, responsible for ensuring that gambling products are fair, safe, and responsible. One of the key aims of the UKGC is to protect players from harm, particularly those who may be vulnerable or at risk of developing gambling-related problems.
The UKGC's regulations state the following:
“Gambling products must not actively encourage customers to chase their losses, increase their stake or increase the amount they have decided to gamble, or continue to gamble after they have indicated that they wish to stop.”
The Bonus Buy feature allows players to pay a larger, fixed sum based on their stake, such as 100x their bet amount or in some cases, even more. Thus, this can be seen as encouraging players to increase their stakes, which is an irresponsible gambling practice in the eyes of the UKGC.
The Problem With Bonus Buy Features
There are three key factors as to why the Bonus Buy feature has been identified as problematic.
Firstly, it can be seen as targeting vulnerable players, who may be more likely to engage in impulsive and risky behavior.
Secondly, it does increase a player's stake which clearly goes against the regulations of the UKGC. If a player spins on a slot machine for £1 and then buys a bonus feature of £100, the stake is immediately increased to £100.
Thirdly, it puts vulnerable players who have a tendency of chasing losses at risk of losing more money in a shorter period of time. Simply because they’re betting more.
Industry Reactions and Alternatives
Online casinos licensed by the UKGC have responded to the ban by removing the Bonus Buy feature from their games. If they didn’t, they would be heavily fined by the UK Gambling Commission and could also lose their license.
However, alternative features that offer similar excitement without the risk of promoting irresponsible gambling behavior have appeared. For example, some games now offer a “Feature Drop” option, which allows players to gradually build up credits towards a bonus round, rather than paying a large sum upfront.
Responses From Players
From a player standpoint, the reaction to the ban has been somewhat divided.
Some players have expressed disappointment and frustration as they enjoyed the ability to access bonus features more easily and potentially get a big win. They argue that the ban takes away their freedom of choice and reduces the excitement of playing online slots.
However, others have welcomed the ban, as they believe that the bonus buy feature can encourage impulsive and reckless behavior in some players. Critics of the bonus buy feature argue that it can be highly addictive and that it encourages players to spend more money than they might otherwise.
The online gambling industry is constantly evolving, with new features and games being introduced all the time. However, it is important that these developments are done responsibly, with the protection of players at the forefront.
Whether the UKGC's ban on the Bonus Buy feature is a positive step in the right direction or not can be argued with players having mixed opinions. Regardless, it is up to gaming providers to adapt and develop innovative and exciting features that are safe and responsible for all players.