Loot boxes are gambling says House of Lords, calls for regulation

EA and 2K better beware, because the UK’s House of Lords are calling for immediate action on loot boxes and gambling in games.

As the controversy over loot boxes has rumbled on over the last few years, the UK government’s attitude towards the concept has remained one of mild disapproval but no tangible action.

In 2017 the UK Gambling Commission stated that loot boxes do not count as gambling, as the items you win cannot legally be exchanged for real money.

But an increasing number of governmental figures, including the NHS mental health chief and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, have called for sterner action and now so too has the House of Lords Gambling Committee.

A new House of Lords report suggests that loot boxes should be classified as ‘games of chance’, which would see them instantly run afoul of the 2005 Gambling Act.

‘If a product looks like gambling and feels like gambling, it should be regulated as gambling,’ says the report, according to the BBC.

‘The government must act immediately to bring loot boxes within the remit of gambling legislation and regulation’, adds a statement from the report.

Interviewed on BBC Breakfast, Lord Grade, chairman of the committee said that the majority of the report’s recommendations could be enacted straight away, with no need for new regulation.

The report is not about video games specifically but covers the entire gambling industry, with a focus on new forms of gambling and those targeted at children.

‘There is academic research which proves that there is a connection, though not necessarily a causal link, between loot box spending and problem gambling,’ says the report.

However, the repot does not necessarily call for loot boxes to be banned, as they have been in Belgium and the Netherlands, and instead suggests that they, and related concepts such as FIFA player packs, should be explicitly described as ‘games of chance’.

That should at the very least mean that any game with loot boxes in it, including sports titles, would be classified as 18-rated. Which should at least put off a few parents.

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