BGC members commit to new game design code

The Betting and Gaming Council’s members have committed to a new game design code.

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has unveiled its new code of conduct for the design of online games which will include implementing limits on slot spin speeds and bans on some features.

This comes after the BGC announced that its members would address concerns over “intensive slots and game designs” as part of the industry’s new action plan which saw BGC members commit to reforming VIP schemes and implementing additional advertising safeguards.

The new code of conduct

The new code of conduct will limit the speed of online slot games to 2.5 seconds per spin and ban turbo play features, which allow users to speed up games, and multi-slot play which allows a player to place multiple stakes on different games at the same time. These features were deemed to encourage intensive play.

The measures outlined in the BGC’s new code of conduct have been agreed by BGC members and will be implemented by members by the end of the month.

BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said: “The BGC was set up last year with the aim of leading a race to the top in terms of standards within the regulated betting industry. The new Game Design Code of Conduct is yet another example of our determination to address concerns head on and meet our safer gambling commitments.

“I’m sure that our members will embrace this approach and commit to its objective of improving player safety. And as we prepare for the forthcoming Gambling Review, it is further evidence of our industry’s commitment to improving standards – unlike the completely unregulated black market.”

For game developers, the BGC said that the code of conduct has been designed to ensure safety principles are fully implemented before a slot game enters the market. On top of this, the code states mandatory checks and time breaks must be enforced as part of a game’s design.

The BGC said it will continue to use first-hand research from academics, regulators, consumers and individuals with lived experience of gambling-related harm to work on the best practices for game design going forward.

The Gambling Commission’s working groups’ progress

The features of the code of conduct were the product of the Gambling Commission working group on game design led by Scientific Games and Playtech, which published suggestions for the industry code in April. However, at the time this was published, the Gambling Commission said the working group’s suggestions did not go far enough.

In a progress report from June, the Commission said it was considering implementing measures such as mandatory loss and stake limits

In July, the UK regulator set up a consultation on game design which included proposals to add all of the measures outlined in the code of conduct of the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP). This would make the measures mandatory for all UK licenced operators, not just BGC members.

The consultation period ended this month and the regulator said it will publish the results soon.

The Gambling Commission said: “We challenged the industry earlier this year to work together to make games less addictive so today’s announcement from the BGC shows progress. There are some areas of the industry code where we do not consider the industry have gone far enough to protect players which is why we have recently consulted on permanent changes to make products safer. We’ll be publishing the outcome of that consultation soon.”

The working group on game design is one of three industry groups intended to create a safer gambling industry in the UK. The group focusing on advertising agreed that social media and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising should only be targeted at those aged 25 and over where possible and proposed changes to VIP schemes.

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