Legislators should take action over loot boxes

Legislators should take action over loot boxes

Last week, the current government published its findings from a call for evidence that was launched in September 2020 in an effort to harness opinion on how to best address the in-game features.

The loot boxes allow players to purchase a box with real money which allows them to receive random items such as power-ups to help a player compete better in the game, as well as cosmetic items including virtual clothing.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) stopped short of banning loot boxes, but did issue a call for game developers to take greater action to protect players.

40% of children who play video games and are leading to the normalisation of gambling-like activities use loot boxes, and GambleAware said it is encouraged to see the government recognise the risks associated with loot boxes.

The UK’s new government, which will be announced shortly following the resignation of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, should consider legislative action on their use, particularly with regards to limiting the access of children and young people.

According to the charity, research has shown that loot boxes are similar to gambling, and therefore more adequate protection would help to prevent future gambling related harms.

Gambling is a part of children and young people’s daily lives, and children are thought to be more vulnerable to gambling harm, both as a result of someone else’s gambling and their own participation.

More needs to be done to prevent harm among children and young people, according to the National Audit Office, with a further 85,000 estimated to be at risk from gambling.

The Video Games Research Framework will be published later this year, which we hope will guide and inform legislation to protect children and young people from gambling related harms through video games.

The response comes after Dame Rachel deSouza, the UK Children’s Commissioner, spoke out against loot boxes in video games, deeming them “inappropriate” and asking for them to be included in the definition of gambling in the UK Gambling Act.

Clause six of the Gambling Act should be expanded to include loot boxes and subject them to regulation, according to DeSouza.

Summary:

GambleAware has said it is encouraged to see the UK government recognising the risks associated with loot boxes, adding how these features are used by 40% of children who play video games and are leading to the normalisation of gambling-like activities. However, it added that going forward, the UK’s new government should consider legislative action on their use.