BGC expresses further concern that stake limits will drive slot players offshore

BGC expresses further concern that stake limits will drive slot players offshore - Banner
Paul Clare
by Paul Clare Last updated:

One proposal included in the UK Gambling White Paper regards per-spin stake limits for all online slot games, including tighter restrictions aimed at younger players. Following a 10-week consultation period, it was agreed that such limits should be put into place.

However, these suggestions drew criticism, with many concerned about exactly how the proposals would affect players.

These proposals have now reached legislation stage. In this article we're going to look at:

  • The limits that will be implemented
  • The BGC's response
  • The Government / UKGC approach
  • Illegal sites
  • Our view

New stake limits

On 22 February the Government announced via its website that a £2 stake limit would be put into place for under 25s. Additionally, all other players would be subject to a £5 per-spin maximum, in an effort to “counter the increased risk of significant harm and life-changing losses from online slot games”.

The BGC’s response

The UK Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has released an official statement regarding the recent stake limit announcements.

First of all, it’s important to note that the BGC is broadly in support of the new slot stake limits, as well as other legislative changes such as the mandatory levy, feeling that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Still, they have some reservations.

The BGC’s current CEO Michael Dugher stated that the BGC welcomes “the UK Government’s decision on new stake limits for online slots games, which provide enhanced protections for young people".

But Dugher also said, “It is important to recognise that measures like this come with a cost to our members and impact their customers” and went on to raise concerns about “customers drifting to the unsafe, unregulated black market” as a result of stricter measures. This is a concern shared by many.

A heavy-handed approach

The recent announcement will likely be a bit of a shock to some of those in the industry, many of whom were already apprehensive about the knock-on effect of imposing strict per-spin stake limits. 

It was initially suggested that the limit could be £15 for those aged 25 and over. That the limit for this group will be set at just £5 will be quite a blow to operators.

There’s no doubt that many younger players will benefit from increased protective measures such as the £2 slot stake limit, but it does raises questions regarding appropriate levels of intervention and governmental overreach. Importantly, it also raises concerns about where those gamblers used to playing higher-stakes slots will turn.

Protecting younger players is common sense, but all knock-on effects should be considered. One potential outcome, which could prove catastrophic for both legitimate operators and British players, is low limits driving players to illegal gambling sites.

The perils of illegal sites

Unregulated black and grey market casinos operate outside of the UKGC’s regulatory reach, leaving them free to engage in various illegal activities.

Unlawful casino sites are often used for money laundering purposes. They frequently don't provide players with the required harm-prevention tools and aren't bound by British laws regarding fairness, transparency and taxation. Some even employ aggressive and exploitative marketing methods.

Such sites function as a breeding ground for harmful habits, whilst exploiting at-risk individuals, as well as short-changing the British economy.

Illegal sites are unlikely to adhere to the Commission’s requirements regarding stake limits, potentially enabling them to attract higher-stakes players who reject the strict £5 limit. 

For players to use these sites is a dangerous thing. Legislation should avoid driving players to illegal sites at all costs. Instead it should facilitate their gambling and, if necessary, abstinence or recovery, within the regulated British gambling industry. 

Changed player behaviour in Germany as a result of stake limits signposts some potentially rocky times ahead for the UK industry.


The implementation of a £2 stake limit for younger players is no surprise, and will likely prevent a certain amount of problem gambling among young people. However, a major concern is that it patronises and will potentially isolate the responsible majority.

However, the fact that the Gambling Commission has settled on a £5 limit for those aged 25 and over is certainly a shocking disappointment. This figure is at the lowest end of the range initially suggested when the 2023 consultations were announced.

The BGC’s concerns appear to be well-founded, and it seems likely that a number of players will be driven away from legitimate sites and onto illegal ones, although the actual extent of this effect will have to be examined in the future.

The Commission’s stake limits are set to come into effect in September of this year.