SlotBeat Spotlight Should losses disguised as wins be toned down?

In July, the UK Gambling Commission opened up a consultation which looks at online slot game design in an attempt to seek public input on new measures to ensure greater protection for vulnerable players.

The consultation, which aimed to evaluate the impact of the controls and friction proposed to reduce the intensity of the player experience for the consumer, commenced on July 9 and closed on September 3.

In this week’s SlotBeats Spotlight, we ask four game developers about their views on the recommended consultation proposals and if Losses Disguised as Wins (LDW) should be ‘toned down’.

SlotBeatsSlot games promote wins lower than the player’s stake in the same way as they promote slots with higher wins, is this a case of a loss disguised as wins and should it be toned down?



David Little, co-founder of Lightning Box

David Little, Lightning Box: It’s normal to have wins less than the stake and this has featured in many popular slot games for a long time. It’s an established mechanic in game design just as it is in table games. If you spread your chips around a roulette table, nobody expects to win more than they bet each time, but getting a bit back never hurts.  

Having these smaller wins helps with hit rates. We’re not aware that they are resented by players either. On the contrary, in fact, they’re not losing all of their bet. What we’ve never done at Lightning Box, having said all that, is to place too much emphasis on these small wins. 

Our games feature a small roll-up with a short tune to indicate they didn’t lose all of their stake.  We agree that any win celebration should be toned down if it’s less than the stake, but we see no reason to get rid of the concept in general.



Andy Sekula, head of games, Kalamba Games

Andy Sekula, Kalamba Games: I’d say that promoting losses to the same extent as wins diminishes the value of wins. So for that reason, in general, LDWs are already de-emphasised to a degree. 

If there’s a win that is lower than the bet, then it should be highlighted – it is still a ‘win’ after all – but not in the same manner as higher wins. So yes, from both UX and ethical perspectives, LDWs should certainly be toned down.


Robert Lee, commercial director, Realistic Games

Robert Lee, Realistic Games: The bone of contention here is the word ‘promote’.  As part of the licensing conditions, every win obtained in a slot must be highlighted to the player, but there are different opinions on what constitutes a ‘win’. Should a win be an amount higher than the player’s total stake or can a payout be defined as a win irrespective of value?  

There are several suppliers who choose to promote lower multiples of wins in a much louder fashion and the question remains as to whether there needs to be a threshold of win multiplier before ‘big win’ animations can be triggered. These animations play an important part in the overall slot experience, but they could be managed better from the supplier to avoid misleading players. 



Roman Sadovskyi, product owner, Evoplay Entertainment

Roman Sadovskyi, Evoplay Entertainment: Now more than ever, the industry’s more nefarious players need to end the habit of offering in-game mechanics that deliberately mislead their players. Eye-catching notifications are used to promote wins, yet by the end of the session the player is left disappointed. 

With what will inevitably be increased regulatory scrutiny, player protection needs to be the highest priority. At Evoplay Entertainment, we use big win pop-up notifications to display wins when the prize is at least x15 the original stake. 

In general, it is the quality of our games, rather than misleading statements, that keeps our players engaged. Player retention should be a product of high-quality content, not false advertising through LDWs.



One of the proposals from the UK Gambling Commission’s consultation is the reduction in game cycle intensity by implementing a minimum game cycle, and removing features designed to make play faster, such as turbo or slam-stop.

In the second part of SlotBeats Spotlight, we delve into player control within slot titles and ask leading suppliers if the inclusion of engagement tools, such as the auto-play feature, removes player control.

SlotBeats: Do you think the auto-play option removes control for the player? Do you think this is a fair assessment and why/why don’t you think that?


Andy Sekula, head of games, Kalamba Games

Andy Sekula, Kalamba Games: Removing auto-play may affect a player’s perception of their control over the results, but the fact is that odds remain the same regardless of the mode: manual or auto-play. 

That said, auto-play itself may limit the control a player has over the time spent on the game and the number of spins during a session. It’s certainly something of a trade-off between control and convenience, and different players and stakeholders might hold different perspectives on what is the ‘right’ choice for them. 


Roman Sadovskyi, product owner, Evoplay Entertainment

Roman Sadovskyi, Evoplay Entertainment: In my view, the key to success is an optimised ‘autoplay’ option that meets players’ expectations. Our newly launched game engine, Spinential, allows the end-user to customise autospin in line with their own personal preferences.

Slots should be all about putting the player in control. From our research we know that some players enjoy spinning in this way, so if that’s the entertainment they’re looking for, it should be available (as long as it’s presented responsibly). 

However, that doesn’t mean the odds should be stacked against the player, players should be able to set total autospins as well establishing a maximum bet total. 


David Little, co-founder of Lightning Box

David Little, Lightning Box: Yes and no. I think if a player chooses to play 20 spins at £1 a spin, for example, they know at the outset that they are going to play £20 in total. That’s what they’ve either deposited or said to themselves that they will spend. I don’t think the functionality runs away with them. 

The UKGC autoplay function also includes loss control for that very reason. Personally, I don’t think it is as fun to play using autoplay as it also usually auto slams out the wins.   When you click spin and play the slot at your own pace, you’re in total control and can stop at any moment. 


Robert Lee, commercial director, Realistic Games

Robert Lee, Realistic Games: In my view, auto-play gives players more control. The introduction of the auto-play requirement was part of a safer gambling initiative which enabled players to be more aware of their spend and their actions. 

Auto-play provides players with a break in play after 25, 50 or 100 spins, and total loss limits must be set for these plays, encouraging users to gamble responsibly.  Take auto-play away, and the player can spin and spin and spin without any forced breaks, putting them more at risk of potentially harmful behaviour. 



In the third part of ‘SlotBeats Spotlight’, we ask our four experts how slot games can be redesigned to adhere to responsible gambling guidelines off the back of the UK Gambling Commission’s incoming consultation.

SlotBeats: How do you think slots can be redesigned to adhere to responsible gambling guidelines and protect the player?


Roman Sadovskyi, product owner, Evoplay Entertainment

Roman Sadovskyi, Evoplay Entertainment: In a word, customisation. Responsible gambling needs to be all about putting the player in control and making sure that they’re in the driving seat. This means fair mechanics more than anything else. Autospins and fast play need to be customisable – and not risk emptying the player’s wallets in a matter of minutes. 

We (as an industry) also need to start looking at re-designing games to focus more on entertainment, we believe that customers should be allowed to enjoy the game itself, without the most enjoyable part of the slots experience needing to be fully dependent on promises of financial reward. 

While much of the onus for responsible guidelines falls on the operator, we as suppliers look to do all we can to support this as well, and we know that providing low-stakes and extended sessions are the way forward.  


Robert Lee, commercial director, Realistic Games

Robert Lee, Realistic Games: Slots are ever evolving. What some class as being innovative, others will class as being not socially responsible. It is a very fine line. Having too many guidelines around slot design will limit player choice, yet at the same time, features have emerged in the market that can have a negative impact in terms of player protection. 

The responsibility lies with suppliers to ensure their games do not trigger irresponsible spending whilst still creating new concepts that drive the evolution. 


Andy Sekula, head of games, Kalamba Games

Andy Sekula, Kalamba Games: Provide players with the potential to win really big, like 10.000 x bet in a single spin. This should make the game fun and more exciting, even when the bet is strongly limited. 

Don’t waste player’s time showing them big win animations (when in fact they’ve hit 1/8 of the bet), make the game engaging, relevant and fun, so players don’t feel bored between spins.


David Little, co-founder of Lightning Box

David Little, Lightning Box: First and foremost, slots should be about entertainment and having fun. Inducing players to bet high or chase their wins is not good for the player or the industry. 

Interestingly, buying into the feature round has become popular in recent years, and it undoubtedly allows for some spectacular performances on streaming sites.  But it has also induced players to place big bets, bets that some can’t afford, and is now banned in the UK for that reason. 

We always ensure we follow design guidelines from the Betting and Gaming Council and player protection is utmost in our mind. Safe players who are protected are happy players after all, and therefore happy customers.



In the penultimate episode of ‘SlotBeats Spotlight‘, we look at what entices players to prefer a more fast-paced gameplay style and the impact of removing features which aid faster plays would have on these players.

SlotBeats: Slot games have been designed to be quite fast-paced, with the inclusion of turbo and slam-stop features, what entices players to potentially prefer these features and how would players and games be affected if these were removed? 


Robert Lee, commercial director, Realistic Games

Robert Lee, Realistic Games: These features have been added over time to speed up the gameplay and enable players to potentially hit bonus rounds quicker. But they haven’t always been around, which is why I don’t believe games will be heavily impacted if they were removed from the market. 

Slots were still being played before they were available. Seasoned players who prefer these features might take time to get used to the slower pace of a normal slot, but it would eventually become the norm for them.


David Little, co-founder of Lightning Box

David Little, Lightning Box: Turbo and slam stop features allow players to move through spins really quickly. Some players use it so they can get to the feature and bonuses in an expedited way. 

The UK has recently introduced measures to remove turbo spins and slam outs.  Land-based games in Australia have never allowed fast stop, so it’s not a big deal for us.  Furthermore, I think the removal is a good thing – and not only for player protection. 

Having a three second reel spin heightens player anticipation around how the reels will land, so excitement builds as they get closer to landing the winning combination. As a result, it not only stops people burning through their cash too quickly, it also increases the user experience – which goes back to the point about this being entertainment.


Andy Sekula, head of games, Kalamba Games

Andy Sekula, Kalamba Games: Fast-paced gameplay builds the brain reward loop much faster and could potentially trigger behaviour outside comfort and responsible gaming limits which is certainly something that should be considered when implementing such features. 

Conversely, removing or not including such elements may make players that are used to fast-paced gameplay bored pretty quickly. Careful gearing of games and the math model is paramount to ensure that players are entertained, but never to the point of excess. 


Roman Sadovskyi, product owner, Evoplay Entertainment

Roman Sadovskyi, Evoplay Entertainment: For certain players, removing such features will likely have a negative impact on the gaming experience. There will always be those who prefer playing fast and obtaining quick results. 

We are a game provider that always puts the player first before customising our products accordingly to ensure we can please our diverse spread of fans around the world. 

Take that away, and you’re effectively removing a preferred style of play for quite a significant demographic – as well as taking away the player’s freedom of choice in how they can enjoy slots. As long as the gaming format is presented responsibly, I believe they should have that choice.