What are Bonus Buy Slots and Why Were They Banned in the UK?
By TOI Staff April 29, 2023 Update on : April 29, 2023
In recent years, the online gambling industry has seen a surge in innovative features, designed to enhance the gaming experience and keep players engaged. Among these innovations, the Bonus Buy feature emerged as a popular addition to online slot games. However, it quickly became a subject of controversy, ultimately leading to its ban in the UK.
What are Bonus Buy Slots?
Bonus Buy slots, also known as Feature Buy or Buy-a-Bonus, are a type of online slot game that allows players to purchase direct access to the game’s bonus features, bypassing the need to trigger them through regular gameplay. Typically, these bonus features include free spins, multipliers or other special rounds that can potentially yield significant rewards.
Offering players the option to buy their way into the bonus feature is designed to appeal to those who prefer instant gratification or who may have limited time to spend on gaming. The main goal for developers however, is to make more money.
How Bonus Buy Slots Work
In a Bonus Buy slot, players are given the option to pay a certain amount of their in-game balance, usually, a multiple of their stake, to gain immediate access to the bonus feature. The cost of the Bonus Buy can vary, but it typically ranges from 50x to 150x the player’s stake.
Once the purchase is made, the bonus feature is activated and the game proceeds as it would have if the bonus had been triggered during regular gameplay. Any winnings earned during the bonus round are added to the player’s balance, just like in a standard bonus round.
The Appeal of Bonus Buy Slots
Bonus Buy slots have gained popularity for several reasons:
1. Instant gratification: Players who prefer immediate results, rather than waiting for bonus features to be triggered tend to find bonus buy slots appealing.
2. Time-saving: Players with limited time to spend on gaming may opt for bonus buy slots to experience the excitement of bonus rounds without spending hours on regular gameplay.
3. Strategy and control: Some players appreciate the strategic element of being able to choose when to enter a bonus round and control their gaming experience.
Why Bonus Buy Slots Were Banned in the UK
Despite their popularity, these games were banned in the UK in October 2019 by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). The main reasons for this decision include:
1. Responsible gambling concerns: The UKGC expressed concerns that the bonus buy feature could encourage excessive spending and problem gambling. By allowing players to bypass regular gameplay and purchase access to bonus features, it was feared that players would be more likely to chase losses and spend beyond their means.
2. Increased risk of harm: The instant gratification provided was seen as potentially harmful, especially to vulnerable players or those with addictive tendencies.
3. Regulation and compliance: The UKGC aims to ensure a safe and fair gambling environment for UK players. Banning bonus buy slots was part of an effort to maintain high regulatory standards and protect players from potential harm.
Exceptions to the Rule
Some buy the bonus slot developers get around the ban by allowing players to use a button to place a larger bet with a variety of potential prizes up for grabs including the bonus round. It seems that this strategy is fine provided the actual bonus round isn’t guaranteed. Bonus buy slots have emerged as an innovative and popular feature in the online gambling industry, offering players a new level of control over their gaming experience. However, the UKGC ban looks set to remain in place for the foreseeable future although, as we’ve seen, there are ways around it. As the gambling industry continues to evolve and introduce new features, regulators must strike a delicate balance between encouraging innovation and protecting players from potential harm.