UKGC Reignites Loot Box Debate

The question of loot boxes in video games and their effect on young people when it comes to gambling related harm has been on and off for some time, and the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has reopened the discussion in a recent report on gambling trends amongst children.The report did suggest a decrease in 11-16 year olds participating in gambling activity, but showed there had been an increase in the risks.

The report

The UKGC’s report shows that 31% of 11-16 year olds surveyed had opened a loot box, with 3% saying they had place a bet in-game.The discussion first started in earnest in 2017, when Connor Rhys Deeley submitted an online petition to have loot boxes discussed in parliament.The petition claimed that the in-game boxes often contain prizes that are worth less than the cost of purchase.Deeley also claimed that the boxes are a form of gambling, and should therefore be regulated by the UKGC, citing a 2017 law in China as precedent.Tracey Crouch, the former Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) who recently stepped down over the fixed-odds betting terminal (FOBT) controversy, pointed to a previous UKGC statement on the issue, which stated:“Where items obtained in a computer game can be traded or exchanged outside the game platform, they acquire a monetary value, and where facilities for gambling with such items are offered to consumers located in Britain a Gambling Commission licence is required.”

No regulation

The conclusion that loot boxes had no real world value means they don’t fall under the UKGC’s remit, but that looks likely to change.The UK Government is likely to face hard questions on the issue, and it is a definite possibility that loot boxes will become regulated by the UKGC as early as next year (2019).

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