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Loot Box Gambling Concern Raised In UK Parliament

Author: Nick Banks
18-Oct-2017

Category: News

In case you didn’t know, loot box culture in games development is a hot topic of controversy. Not just because of disgruntled gamers feeling a little swindled being asked to spend more after a full purchase. But also because of a deeper, more psychological concern. With randomly generated loot coming forth after payment, we have a question of gambling coming into play. Go to any casino and you’ll see it is adults only there, for good reason. So why are videogames suddenly exempt? Daniel Zeichner, a Labour MP in UK parliament asks this question.

Loot Box Gambling Concern Raised In UK Parliament
The person to ask was Karen Bradley. She’s the UK secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport. Zeichner's first question was words to the effect of “what will you do to protect vulnerable children and adults from in-game gambling and loot boxes?”. His second question centred on The Isle of Man, which currently holds far stricter rules on gambling and Zeichner suggested expanding its policies to the rest of the UK.

Loot Box Gambling Concern Raised In UK Parliament - Overwatch loot boxes
Sadly, the official response was unsatisfying, vague and noncommittal. Bradley simply recites existing policies, stating Protecting children and vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited by gambling is one of the core objectives of the regulation of gambling in Great Britain and a priority for the government. The Gambling Commission have a range of regulatory powers to take action where illegal gambling is taking place… the government recognise the risks that come from increasing convergence between gambling and computer games. The Gambling Commission is keeping this matter under review and will continue to monitor developments in the market.” 

It looks like the buck has been passed to The Gambling Commision. 

Loot Box Gambling Concern Raised In UK Parliament - Shadow of War loot boxes
Of course, conversely, we have the argument that RNG loot crates are in fact not a form of gambling. The argument would say that gambling suggests a risk to get nothing back whatsoever for your money. Whereas, loot crates will always give the player something. The real question now is: will Daniel Zeichner push on with his argument and approach The Gambling Commission? We residents of the UK would also have to wonder if we wanted him to. As much as a majority of us may feel strongly against loot boxes, there’s a chance of this damaging our gaming hobby. Should use of loot boxes in videogames be outlawed altogether in the UK, we’d likely lose out on the games that contain them. That means no Shadow of War, no Forza Motorsport 7no Battlefront 2… No Overwatch

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