Why Did the UKGC Ban Player-Led Spin Stop Feature in Online Slots?

UKGC banned spin stop on slots

On October 31st, 2021, the UKGC imposed a ban on player-led spin-stop in online slots and quick-stop (also known as slam-stop, fast-stop, screen-slap, and button-slap) in offline slots.

This means that UK gamblers can no longer manually stop the reels of a slot machine in motion. It's like taking away the ability to hit the brakes, which might seem like the Gambling Commission wants to limit player control.

However, if we consider responsible gambling, the ban totally makes sense. By removing the option to stop the reels manually, impulsive gambling can be curbed and healthier gambling habits can be encouraged.

Now, let's discuss the nitty-gritty of the ban and how it impacts players, casinos, and game providers.

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Key takeaways:

  • The UKGC has banned the player-led spin-stop feature in online slots to promote responsible gambling.
  • Spin-stop involves manually stopping the reels of a slot that is in motion.
  • Spin-stop is a gimmick and doesn't influence game outcomes, only providing a false sense of control.
  • The ban aims to prevent impulsive gambling, enhance bankroll management, and discourage mindless gambling behaviour.
  • It aligns with other regulations such as banning auto spins, and turbo mode, and enforcing a 2.5-second delay between spins.
  • The ban can affect players' sense of control, gameplay speed, and personal preferences.
  • Fast-paying casinos face challenges in presenting less enticing slots, while players may find the game less engaging.
  • Slot developers may be demotivated due to limited innovation opportunities.
  • Balancing responsible gambling and enjoyable gaming experiences is crucial for the industry's progress.

About Spin-Stop in Online Slots and Why it Exists in the First Place

Have you ever pressed the ‘Play' button on a slot machine while the reels were still spinning, hoping to change the outcome? Well, that’s essentially what spin-stop is all about.

But does it really work as intended? Not really.

The truth about the existence of spin-stop in online slots is that it’s just a gimmick. It doesn’t have any real influence on the outcome of the game, whatsoever.

It's simply an extra feature meant to enhance the entertainment value of the slot and attract gullible players. Spin-stop gives you the false impression that you are in control of the game and that you can change the outcome of a spin.

In reality, the likelihood of this feature having an impact on the results is zero. This is because all the spins' outcomes have already been determined using the Random Number Generator (RNG) the moment you hit play for the first time.

The RNG of an online slot game operates at an incredibly fast pace, cycling through thousands of potential combinations every millisecond. This is a lot faster than any human can possibly count.

So, when you try to stop the spinning reels, know that the computer has already completed numerous randomisations. Your action has absolutely no effect on the final result.

In fact, spin-stopping a slot can have a reverse effect and work against you. It basically speeds up your gameplay without offering you any benefit. While the casino profits by making money faster, you end up burning your bankroll much quicker.

In a nutshell, spin-stopping is not worth it at all, unless you don’t care about your bankroll. This is precisely why the UKGC has chosen to ban it.

They recognise that the feature doesn't help players. Instead, it encourages reckless gambling and can lead to addiction, which goes against the principles of responsible gambling.

With its availability, your betting frequency could increase, which could make it harder to control spending. Bankroll management can become an issue, which could eventually contribute to financial hardships knocking at your door.

The purpose of the ban is to promote responsible gambling and safeguard you from the risks of fast-paced gambling. With the option to stop the reels manually, you'll spend less time deciding when to stop playing. This is especially risky if you have a limited bankroll.

Ultimately, you may end up wagering more money than you can afford to lose, which could raise concerns about suspicious gambling activity as perceived by the UKGC. In a way, the Gambling Commission wants you to go easy and save you from yourself.

Additionally, the spin-stop feature defies the rule regarding the 2.5-second delay between slot spins. Fast withdrawal casinos licensed by the UKGC must adhere to this rule, but the inclusion of a spin-stop feature would make it impossible to maintain this interval.

Furthermore, this seemingly harmless feature can contribute to you getting dissociated from the game. The sense of false control creates a perception that your actions have a direct impact on the outcome.

This, in turn, can lead to a detachment from the actual gameplay experience. You may become more engrossed with the act of stopping the reels instead of engaging with the slot itself.

It shifts the attention away from the entertainment aspect of the game and imposes it on a mindless, mechanical and repetitive behaviour where you become less aware of your surroundings and the consequences of your actions.

By banning spin-stop features, the UKGC's aim is to discourage this potential dissociation and promote a more mindful and responsible approach to gambling.

It encourages players to engage with the game as intended, focusing on the entertainment value rather than fixating on arbitrary stopping points of the reels.

Please note that the elimination of spin-stop from online slots at fast withdrawal casinos in the UK is coupled with a few other rules, which include the following:

The reason is the same for all of them: to promote responsible gambling.

Did You Know?

While playing offline slots, you can be fined for any damage caused by slam-stopping the reels. Because you damaged private property that doesn’t belong to you, it makes you accountable, even if you did it accidentally. You can also be banned from the casino and even denied a jackpot you won.

How Was the Ban Imposed and What Was the Response?

On October 31, 2021, the UKGC implemented the ban on spin-stop in slots after careful consideration of various viewpoints collected from several respondents, including casino operators, players, and other individuals.

These respondents were presented with a proposal about restricting in-game features that deliberately intensify gameplay in the following ways:

  • By speeding up the gameplay
  • By offering players a false sense of control
  • By encouraging dissociation from the game 

As per the UKGC, 62% of respondents agreed with the proposal to ban the listed features, with strong support from casino operators, which was three times as positive as negative.

However, some operators did question the necessity of the ban, suggesting that as long as the minimum game cycle speed of 2.5 seconds is maintained, the features can be allowed.

A few respondents were against the notion that features like spin-stop in slots can create an illusion of control, arguing that they are designed to help players skip repeated animations. In response to this, the UKGC permitted the skipping of animation, but only after the result of a spin had been communicated.

Interestingly, an academic perspective suggested that spin-stops may in fact give players a perception of control. However, academia was also of the view that, despite this perception, the feature doesn’t impact the chances of winning.

A player stated that if features like spin-stop do not affect the outcome of a spin, they should be removed. Another mentioned that they were already aware of the futility of manually stopping a spin.

Some operators expressed concerns that the proposal might affect free spins and game elements like bonus mechanics, eventually prolonging the game cycle. But a player suggested that the one playing should initiate each free spin.

Concerns were also raised about the ban’s effect on genuine skill-stop slot machines, which is extremely relevant in our opinion. However, the UKGC has not been able to provide a satisfactory explanation for this.

For the uninitiated, skill-stop slot machines are very similar to regular slot machines, but with a major difference: you need to manually start and stop every spin. In a way, it offers you more control over the game, as your ultimate goal is to stop the reels right when the symbols form a winning combination.

4 Reasons the Ban Is Good

The UKGC’s ban on player-led spin-stop in slot games is right with regard to the following aspects:

  • Responsible gambling
  • Mindful slot gaming
  • Easy bankroll management
  • Avoidance of overspending

5 Reasons the Ban Is Bad

The ban, however, doesn’t make sense if you consider the following aspects:

  • Speedy slot gaming
  • Faster gratification
  • Reduced sense of control (even if fake)
  • Slot gaming the traditional way
  • Loss of personal preference

What Is the Impact of the Ban on Player-Led Spin Stop?

On Fast Paying Casino Operators

The ban poses challenges for fast-paying casinos licensed by the UKGC that now face the task of presenting slots in a less enticing manner. Since players no longer have the option to manually stop the spinning reels, it might result in reduced player interest, potentially affecting profitability for the businesses.

Additionally, operators are responsible for strictly enforcing the ban on spin-stop in their slots. They must be vigilant at all times to ensure compliance with the rule, thereby avoiding potential consequences.

On UK Players

Every player has unique preferences when it comes to slot gaming. The lack of spin-stop might just make slot gaming appear a whole lot boring to them. After all, the feature may provide these players with a sense of control over the game’s outcome.

Banning it takes away this sense of control, potentially making the game feel more arbitrary and luck-based, and leading to a less satisfying gaming experience. These players may prefer having the ability to influence the game by stopping the reels at their desired moment.

This, combined with the ban on features like bonus buy, auto-spins and turbo mode, and the 2.5-second interval between spins could make slot gaming in the UK seem dull and uninteresting.

As a result, players may choose to express their dissatisfaction by playing at offshore online casinos licensed elsewhere that provide the desired features, including spin-stop.

On Slot Developers

The prohibition on features such as spin-stop in slot games can significantly demotivate game developers, hindering their ability to innovate and create engaging experiences.

These developers thrive on pushing the boundaries of creativity. When their freedom to explore new ideas is constrained, it undermines their purpose and adversely affects their financial success in the long run, making it a double blow to their efforts.

Let’s Cut to the Chase

The online gambling industry recognises the utmost importance of prioritising responsible gambling and fostering a safe gaming environment. In line with this objective, the UK Gambling Commission's recent decision to ban spin-stop features in online slots is a significant step.

However, the potential consequences that may arise from this ban are many. One such concern is the increase in the churn rate that might happen due to players moving to online casinos that don’t need to adhere to the UKGC’s rules.

Given the substantial revenue generated by the UK gambling industry, such a development could have unfavourable implications. Therefore, finding the right balance between responsible gambling and enjoyable slot gaming experiences is pivotal for the industry's progress.

With extensive experience in the professional iGaming industry since 2015 and thousands of casino articles and reviews under his belt, Mattias is a seasoned expert well-versed in the world of online casino gambling.
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