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Loot Boxes Not Gambling, Rules UKGC
- November 27, 2017 By Oliver Young -
So called loot boxes were a hotly debated topic in the past few months, and many gambling regulatory bodies decided that this is an issue that needed to be addressed. Loot boxes are in-game items which help players progress through the stages of the game and reach higher levels. These loot boxes can be purchased directly from the game, but in many occasions, players don’t know the content of these games, and therefore their value can exceed the amount of money they paid for the box, but the box may also be less valuable than what the player has paid.
The fact that these loot boxes are randomised and can have an impact on the player’s in-game progress, made certain people think that loot boxes and the whole process of purchasing loot boxes is a form of gambling. Star Wars Battlefront II was in the focus of the debate, as this newly released game features a gameplay that heavily depends on loot boxes.
Loot Boxes Raise Concerns
As certain gambling regulators decided to look into the issue, the publisher decided not to risk things and the in-game purchases were excluded from the game, on the eve of the release. However, the debate continued. This game was pointed out especially due to the fact that its theme has an appeal to children and some argued that in-game purchases will provide a gambling tool for children.
The Belgian authorities were among the first ones to respond to the issue, and the Belgian regulator decided that loot boxes constitute online gambling and that as such, this practice will have to be regulated. US legislators also discussed the matter and some of them felt that the goal of the game is to get people to spend money. Chris Lee, a representative of the Hawaiian legislative body holds that opinion.
The Dutch authority on gaming is yet to announce its position on the matter, but it won’t be surprising if they reach a conclusion that it is a form of gambling, as the Dutch regulator has a very strict policy when it comes to underage gambling. The regulatory commission of Victoria, Australia, stated that loot boxes pose a risk to young individuals and other vulnerable categories.
The UK Gambling Commission Remains Dedicated to Its Goals
The UK Gambling Commission held a session on which loot boxes were discussed and later it published that in their opinion it doesn’t constitute gambling. The main reason for this conclusion was the fact that loot boxes cannot create winnings that can be withdrawn or cashed out and therefore they cannot be considered to be a form of gambling.
However, Miller, the Executive Director of the UKGC, stated that loot boxes are a threat to minors, adding that the border between online gaming activities that are considered to be gambling and ones that aren’t can be very thin in certain cases. It can be expected that the UKGC will be monitoring the whole situation closely in the future, especially considering their decisions on similar issues like eSports betting regulation and the fact that the Commission intends to dedicate more efforts to tackling problem gambling.