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UK Announces Casino Rule Relaxations and Cashless Payments

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 New UK gambling measures to include cashless payments, relaxed casino rules, and an 18+ age limit. (Image: Vastram / Alamy)

Back in April 2023, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) published its gambling white paper, and this week it has been decided a number of measures will be put into effect. 

Among these measures are a relaxation of casino rules which are hoped to help the land-based industry in the aftermath of the rise of casino sites, gaming machines to be allowed in arcades and bingo halls, cashless payments on gaming machines such as slots and a legal age limit of 18-years-old on said gaming machines. 

There will no updates on casino bonuses, which have been subject to scrutiny in recent years.

The plans – which have been dubbed long overdue –  have been welcomed by The Betting and Gaming Council and Rank Group Plc, who run Grosvenor Casinos around the country. There have been calls for the government to set out a clear timeline but the consensus within the industry was that the changes were ‘much needed’.  


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What Are the New Proposals?

According to the report Government response to measures relating to the land-based gambling sector (Updated May 16, 2024), the government intends to implement the following measures: 

Relaxation on casino rules:  

  • Allowing 1968 Act casinos to increase the number of their gaming machines to 80 if they meet the size requirements of a Small 2005 Act casino  
  • Allowing smaller 1968 Act casinos more than 20 machines, on a pro rata basis commensurate to their size, and permitting betting in all casinos 

Machines in arcades and bingo halls:  

  • Allowing a 2:1 ratio of Category B to Category C and D gaming machines in arcades and bingo halls, implemented on a device type basis. 

Cashless payments on gaming machines:  

  • Removing the prohibition on the direct use of debit cards on gaming machines, subject to the introduction of appropriate player protection measures 

Introduction of a legal age limit of 18 for certain gaming machines:  

  • Protecting children and young people by banning anyone under the age of 18 from playing low stake Category D slot-style machines that pay out cash  

Licensing authority fees:  

  • Increasing the maximum chargeable premises licensing fees by 15%. 

How and When Will Changes Take Place? 

  • Changes made via legislation will come into force automatically  
  • Legislation can still be blocked  
  • House of Commons or Lords can object within a 40-day window.  

The Gambling Commission consultation is due to begin in the next couple of weeks, with a completion date of at least three months. 

Gamblers will still be banned from using credit cards in slot machines, however, there is an argument for allowing pubs, casinos, and slot venues to compete in an increasingly cashless society.  

Charity Raises Concerns 

There has been a muted response from Gambling with Lives. Co-founder of the charity Liz Ritchie told the BBC that slot venues were “taking over our high streets” and card payments would make machines “even easier to play.”

She added: “Anything that increases access to highly addictive machines cannot be seen as a positive.” 

The charity stalwart also told the BBC that there needed to be a look at how the machines could be made safer by reducing deposit limits and slowing spin speeds. 

The Government Aims to Balance Changes With Protection of Brick-And-Mortar Arcades

The government believes that the changes will level the playing field with online betting as part of a wider package. At present, cashless gambling on gaming machines is only available via mobile apps or purchasing special tickets for machines. 

The Culture Department for Gambling Laws expressed concerns that the decline in the use of society could see machines become obsolete with ‘bricks-and-mortar’ arcades threatened with job losses. 

In recent years, some machines have been limited to a maximum bet of £2, and £1 for machines in pubs. 

One of the advantages of cashless slot machines is that they offer increased security, and the risk of theft and fraud would be reduced by eliminating the need for physical cash being used for the slot machines. 

Cashless Slot Machines Will Have a Profound Impact on Industry

Cashless technology is becoming more prevalent, and the Gambling Commission will be overseeing all aspects of the proposals to ensure fairness and protect consumers. The impact on how gambling arcades operate and how players engage with slot machines may be profound as 

Cashless slot machines provide a new level of convenience and security for both operators and players. The future of gambling appears to be on a promising, cashless path, ushering in an era where the clinking of coins in a slot tray could become a sound of the past. 

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