Going Dutch and a flutter on the Grand National | My week in iGaming

Going Dutch and a flutter on the Grand National | My week in iGaming
Paul Clare
by Paul Clare Last updated:

Spring is now firmly in the air. With the early Easter fading even more quickly into memory than usual, and the must-play Easter slots having had their time in the sun, it’s back to work for most. Not least, the UK government and their ongoing effort to overhaul gambling regulation…

There’s a lot been happening recently in the gambling world. What better time for my first ‘week in iGaming’ update, and a look at some of the goings on in the UK industry and elsewhere?

Online slots: £2 maximum stake for under 25s

The government has finally shown its hand on the maximum stake limits to be introduced for online slots. From September, the maximum will be £2 per spin for 18-24 year olds. For over 25s, it’s a £5 maximum, in line with the limit in casinos.

According to a government press release, operators will have a six week transition period to fall in line with the new rules.

Citing higher than average problem gambling rates in under 25s, lower disposable income and “ongoing neurological development”, the government has said the measures have followed the evidence gathered through the 10 week consultation process.

The confirmed £2 maximum shifts this into the realms of policy. While it’s unlikely to come as a surprise given the long-trailed proposals, it’s at least a bit of certainty for slot sites to work with. With the confirmation, steps can be taken early to prepare for the rule changes for when they become law later in the year.

Dutch gambling advertising ban shows ‘no adverse effect’

A report from the Dutch gambling regulator caught my eye. The Kansspelautoriteit, which regulates iGaming in the Netherlands, said a recent ban on untargeted gambling advertising in the country had not delivered “any noticeable contraction” in the gambling market.

In its latest monitoring report on online gambling, the regulator said the measure had reduced the number of visits to gambling sites from those who do not currently gamble. However, the overall market has shown no signs of contraction since the ban was introduced in July last year, meaning the measure “mainly affects people who do not yet play".

However, data showed that growth in the industry had essentially flatlined in 2023, after a strong 2022. While the aims of protecting vulnerable gamblers are admirable, the total ban on untargeted advertising does seem to be throttling the momentum of their gambling sector. I’m not convinced that’s definitely the right policy balance, but to each their own.

With reports like that, the Kansspelautoriteit better watch it doesn’t give the Gambling Commission any more ideas…

UK election odds – odds narrow on new polling

Election talk is in the air, with bad news abound for Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives. A recently released poll projected a Labour supermajority of a staggering 286, with the Tories clocking fewer than 100 MPs. If the forecast reflects after polling day, several Cabinet ministers rumoured to have their eyes on the top prize find their own seats in serious jeopardy. The likes of Penny Mordaunt, James Cleverly, and Grant Shapps could be looking for new jobs, in what looks set to be a nationwide Labour rout. And on the subject of Penny Mordaunt, does she remind anyone else of a dominatrix or is it just my Slot Gods colleague Simon...?

Naturally, the betting markets have responded in kind – the best value for a Labour majority comes in at just 1/8, according to Oddschecker. For the brave, a Tory majority is available at 12/1… That is, of course, in what is effectively a 2 horse race!

There’s still no concrete indication of when an election might be held, with best guesses pointing towards the late autumn. They say a week is a long time in politics and anything can happen. While the momentum clearly seems to be heading one way, there might be some outside value in a contrarian bet.

Grand National

With Cheltenham done and dusted for another year, the racing calendar galloped towards what many regard as the main event: The Grand National. Forgive the hackneyed phraseology but it really is one of those 'more than' things we happen to love in Britain. More than a horse race in this case. It's the most watched race in the country with seemingly me, everyone and their grandmother entering the fray for a flutter.

And for the record I Am Maximus, trained by Willie Mullins and with Paul Townend riding, won. The winner was a pre-race 7/1 joint favourite in this, the 176th time the famous race has been run. It was a 'double' for Townend and Mullins who enjoyed a Cheltenham Gold Cup win just a few weeks previously.

The next big one is the Epsom Derby on 1 June

And finally… my slot of the month

Slot of the month for me this month is Dirty Dawgs of Nitropolis. The latest release from ELK Studios, it’s a more conventional slot than others in the series (of which I’m a big fan). Nitro wild reels, random modifiers, free spins and the Super Bonus Game make this a slot with a lot of potential - looking forward to getting a few more spins in myself over the coming weeks.

Paul Clare
by Paul Clare Last updated:

Paul spent plenty of time in arcades up and down the UK discovering all of the best fruit machines and watching them grow into the incredible online slots we see today. He still loves the basic format but also has a soft spot for games with big bonus rounds that progress as you play. Immortal Romance is one of his favourite slots of all time.