Loot boxes should be “regulated as gambling” says House Of Lords

The UK’s House Of Lords Gambling Committee has published a report calling for immediate action on video game loot boxes

Loot Box

by William Austin-Lobley |
Updated on

Loot boxes should be regulated under gambling laws as they are “games of chance”, according to The House Of Lords Gambling Committee (via BBC).

In a publication uploaded to the UK Parliament’s website, the committee states that "the government must act immediately to bring loot boxes within the remit of gambling legislation and regulation," because “if a product looks like gambling and feels like gambling, it should be regulated as gambling.”

Quake Champions Loot Boxes

Loot boxes, or loot crates, are in-game purchases offering randomised rewards, ranging from new character skins, items, and other such digital collectables. While some of these crates are unlockable for free, many require the player to exchange real money for in-game currencies, which then can be used in the purchases. Some opponents of the practice claim that these currencies hide and distance players from the real-world cost of loot boxes.

The chairman of the committee, Lord Grade, has previously told the BBC that the prevalence of loot boxes in gaming is prompting “kids to gamble”, and that regulation should not be delayed as the UK government is already "way behind what was actually happening in the market".

Some countries have already acted, with China heavily regulating the practice and Belgium banning it outright.

Some defenders of the practice deny the causal link between loot boxes and problem gambling. One of the committee’s advisors, Dr David Zendle, stated that it is of no matter whether loot boxes create problem gamblers, or whether problem gamblers rely on loot boxes. The connection between the practice and gambling addiction is “extraordinarily robust,” he said.

The full report, which looks at a wide range of gambling issues, not only those relating to loot boxes, claims that there are 55,000 problem gamblers in the UK, aged between 11-16. The report highlights that loot boxes in video games, and the growth of esports betting, can act as gateways for younger individuals to develop gambling habits.

William Lobley is a Content Writer and reviewer for WhatsTheBest, specialising in technology, gaming and outdoors. He also writes for Empire Online.

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