Video Game loot boxes have grown to become a hot topic because many people consider that these in-game rewards make children more susceptible to gambling. The opposing stance is that they do not fall within the purview of the gambling legislation even though an element of chance is indeed available.
The calls for their regulation are spurred by the growing concerns that encourage children to gamble and make it more likely for them to develop an addiction at a later stage.
The debate about loot boxes and whether they should be regulated by the state has become even more heated in some countries, and while they are described as gambling in some territories, this is not so in the UK.
What Are Loot Boxes and How Do They Work
Over the years, things have changed dramatically when video games are concerned simply because, in the early days, it was not possible to spend more money on them in addition to these needed to buy the game itself. Loot boxes are in-game rewards that offer a random selection of items players can either purchase or earn that can be used in order to improve their playtime.
Many experts deem that loot boxes are a controversial video game element leading to gambling-style behavior. The presence of the risk-reward factor is exactly the reason why many people believe loot boxes have much in common with roulette and slots. This is also why many people deem that loot boxes are an easy trap to fall into for children, which goes to explain why their regulation is much-needed.
It is easy to see why there are so many calls for stricter regulation of the loot boxes as their effect has started to become increasingly harmful, with more and more children spending hundreds of pounds so that they could continue playing. Sometimes, they pay in order to save themselves the hassle of waiting for a couple of hours before they could progress through the game or to obtain equipment that will help them along the way.
It seems that the popularity of loot boxes is heavily on the rise, and figures show that such are to be found in over 70% of some of the most well-liked video games that are available on one of the most frequented gaming portals. Just for comparison, just ten years ago, only 4% of all games available there had these in-game items.
Estimations come to show that well over £23 billion are spent on such items for a year, but this value is expected to increase to well above £30 billion by the end of 2022. Besides, over 90% of the children between 10 and 16 years play video games on regular basis, while 2% of the children of this age are problem gamblers, and their number continues to increase at a fast pace.
Loot Boxes and Their Legal Status
More and more people insist that the government should reclassify loot boxes because currently, they do not fit the description of games of chance. In spite of the fact that these games do contain an element of chance, they do not fall within the oversight of the Gambling Commission of the UK. This is so simply because no monetary value is ascribed to the prizes a loot box might contain.
Although loot boxes are not deemed a form of gambling, players from the UK will have an easy time finding an interactive casino, which is cut to fit their preferences using the affiliate site with listings of regulated casinos.
Yet, the surveys that were held recently indicate that an ever-growing number of children find it hard to cease feeding money in the game until they get the item they need, which is alarmingly reminiscent of the behavior of problem gamblers.
Of course, if loot boxes fall within the oversight of the government, the changes will have a major influence on game developers for the simple reason that they will have their backs to the wall to either revamp their games or withdraw them.
As it becomes clear from the stance of the Gambling Commission, loot boxes do not fall within their purview for the simple reason that the items that are derived from them cannot be exchanged for real money and cashed out. According to the position of the UK Government on loot boxes, they do not fall within the scope of the Gambling Act 2005 and are not a licensable activity.
The blurred line between gambling and video gaming has led to a backlash from parents too, and figures indicate that approximately 60% of the people have voiced their concerns that the current legislation needs to be reviewed to cope with this matter.
In spite of the fact that the introduction of these in-game elements has not occurred overnight, it can safely be said that legislators were a bit sluggish to clamp down on it. The Children’s Commissioner also insists on the reclassification of the status of loot boxes and calls for the implementation of age verification, the introduction of limits on the amounts that can be spent in such games, and the usage of warning labels.
Whether or not the UK will follow the lead of some other countries and will bring loot boxes within the remit of the Gambling Commission is yet to be seen. Still, some actions need to be taken, and whether this will be an outright ban or loot boxes will be classified as a form of gambling is still unclear.