Conor D’Arcy, Head of Research and Policy, Money and Mental Health

Changes to online slot machines shows the opportunity to tackle gambling harm

10 February 2021

“Gamble responsibly.” or “When the fun stops, stop.” We’ve all heard these tag lines at the end of ads for gambling companies. But a recent announcement from the Gambling Commission, the gambling regulator, has underlined how the design of online gambling games can undermine our ability to stay in control. Even when the fun stops, many people can’t.

Slot machines

Common symptoms of mental health problems can make us more likely to start gambling and make it more difficult to stop. While all forms of gambling can be highly addictive, online gambling presents particular problems. Our Research Community – a group of 5,000 people (as of April 2021) with lived experience of mental health problems who are at the core of our work – told us how the experience of gambling online can lead to unaffordable losses.

“It’s too easy to lose your money, because you’re only pressing [a] button, you don’t actually have the cash in your hand.” Expert by experience

“The site is colourful and often times mesmerising (especially the slots).” Expert by experience

Bigger changes needed