Next in the hot seat in our series of interviews is resident Slot God and Content Manager Paul Clare.
Paul shared his gambling life story with us, provided some fascinating insights into his role in the Slot Gods team and shared some thoughts on the wider industry. And he didn't hold back on some of his fears and concerns, both industry-wise and otherwise!
Where did it all begin?
Gambling has pretty much always been a part of my life in some form or another. From playing card games like Newmarket with my grandad to placing small bets on the Grand National via an older family member or friend! When I was old enough to go to the pub, I was mesmerised by fruit machines and played them more than I should have. A little intervention from an angry grandparent put me back on the right track!
When did you make the move to playing online?
I was probably about 21 when I first played online, so back in the early 2000s when things were starting to properly kick off in the world of online slot sites. I used to play poker and had a bit of luck here and there, so I decided to try a couple of slots. They were still quite basic back then, though.
Do you remember playing online the first time? What was the game?
I can't remember which slot I first tried but I don’t think it had any bonus rounds or anything like that. I got more involved with online games a few years ago when I started working in the industry and I remember Fishin’ Frenzy standing out at that stage.
What are the advantages of online games?
For a start, you don’t have to go anywhere and that’s got to appeal to fans who don’t like, or are unable, to get to a bar, casino or bookies to have a few spins. There’s no need to have a pocket full of coins either! The variety is incredible now, and your laptop or phone is like the most advanced entertainment device ever – nobody will ever be short of choice.
What themes do you like?
I like a quirky game that doesn’t just follow the crowd – Nolimit City, Push Gaming and Hacksaw Gaming are all great for that. ELK Studios can also throw you a curveball from time to time and Peter & Sons have recently entered the world of WTF slots too.
What are your current favourite slots and what is it about them that grabs you?
It’s hard to pick a favourite among the many games that I’ve worked with, but there are a few that stand out for various reasons.
Fear the Dark – Some slots grow on you but others just strike a chord instantly. I loved this game straight away. There’s something about the simple grid feel, regular modifiers and fun design that keep you interested and make all parts of this game entertaining to play. The 5,000x max payout probably won’t attract the high rollers, but fans like me who prefer small stakes and medium volatility will find more than enough winning potential here to make this a slot of choice.
- Fear The Dark
- Hacksaw Gaming
- Max payout:
- 5,000x stake
- Halloween, Horror
- Release date:
- 13th Apr 2023
Razor Returns – For me, this was one of the standout moments of 2023. The slots world, in general, has considered the Money Train series to be the best for quite a while, but then this beast came along with its 100,000x max win and innovative features, and I sent it to the top of the Slot Gods leaderboard. Nudge & Reveal works together with the Razor Reveal feature to make the base game feel more like a bonus round, and that’s what grabbed my attention. It doesn’t hurt that the design is fantastic and you could hit some enormous wins too!
- Razor Returns
- Push Gaming
- Max payout:
- 100,000x stake
- Win lines:
- Animal, Fishing
- Release date:
- 4th Jul 2023
Oxygen – We only brought ELK Studios onto the Slot Gods site last year, so I had the chance to work with loads of titles straight away to get up to speed with this developer. I remember thinking that we’ve been missing out here. One of my favourites so far has been Oxygen with its fast-paced action throughout, and the volatility isn’t too crazy for a game with such big winning potential.
- ELK Studios
- Max payout:
- 25,000x stake
- Release date:
- 20th Dec 2023
What would you like to see game developers do in the future?
Working with slots for the UK market, it’s always frustrating to see developers ignore the base game and save everything for the bonus round that can take a while to trigger. Many do this to target high rollers who’ll pay a premium to access this part of the game instantly.
Bonus buy features are not available in the UK, and I feel like we’re being overlooked sometimes. Developers might make a quick buck elsewhere, but other countries are starting to question how responsible this form of gambling truly is as well. If slot creators aren’t careful, we’ll be left with thousands of boring base games with amazing bonus features that nobody can realistically access.
So, to answer your question, [developers should] put more effort into the base games and remember that, as an industry, we tell the world that gambling is entertaining and not just about the money. Some slot developers are making it hard to stand by that statement at present.
How many hours a week do you play?
The answer to this question will probably ring some alarm bells over at GamCare, but remember that I work with these things all day, every day! I reckon I play for 2-3 hours a day.
What do you think the future holds for the industry?
There are regulatory changes that we can’t ignore right now, and this will be the big news moving forward. The next couple of years will see things such as stake limits, restrictions on promotions, and financial checks all come into play.
I agree that we need to protect vulnerable players, but I’m not convinced that the UKGC is going about it the right way. They’re in danger of treating everybody as a problem gambler unless they can prove they’re not – a bit ‘arse about face’, in my opinion.
On the games front, I think slots might become more interactive with the use of VR and maybe even more competitive with players who love to share their achievements, etc. Perhaps we could also see a ban on joker and clown-based slots too – they freak me out.
What we learnt from Paul...
Paul’s position and experiences give him a broad and detailed perspective on the gambling industry. He raises several interesting points, which have left us crossing our fingers that the UKGC bucks its ideas up and ensures that its methods don’t inadvertently isolate responsible gamblers while protecting those that need help.
We’re also hoping that developers will take note of the fact that bonus buy slots are illegal in Britain and focus more on base games, as well as that they keep creating great horror-themed slots… just as long as they’re clown-free!