UK gov should classify lootboxes as games of chance says committee

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The UK’s House of Lords Select Committee on the Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry has today published an exhaustive report addressing what needs to be done to prevent gambling harm.

Of note in this report is a section which deals with lootboxes in games.

The committee slammed the the use of lootboxes in games, but also slammed narrow definitions of what gambling is that have allowed lootboxes to flourish.

“In our view, the fundamental stumbling block here is the Gambling Act’s definition of gambling. In particular, the definition of a prize, “money or money’s worth”, does not reflect the way children spend and, in our eyes, gamble money online,” said senior policy and public affairs analyst at Children’s Commissioner’s Office, Simone Vibert.

“They have immense value to the children who are spending money to get them, whether that is to take part in the game all their friends are playing or whether it is to not be bullied, in some cases. That is where we feel the Gambling Act is not working in the way it should in the modern world,” Vibert added.

As such, the committee has recommended that the UK government specify that lootboxes and similar “games” are games of chance without waiting for a review of the Gambling Act.

“…Loot boxes first appeared in video games in the early 2010s, and despite growing concerns about their impact on children and young people, action has yet to be taken to regulate them in Great Britain,” the committee said.

“It is too late to regulate a product as gambling, when it has already caused harm to children and young people. Neither the Government nor the Gambling Commission can afford to wait years before bringing new ‘gambling-like’ products within the remit of the Act,” it added.

As we mentioned the report is exhaustive and you can read it in full here. If you’re only interested in the bit about lootboxes you can read that here.

In total the House of Lords Select Committee on the Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry made 66 recommendations to the UK government.

We do wonder how developers who use lootboxes in games will feel about this and whether the UK government will indeed classify lootboxes as a game of chance.

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.