The UK’s House of Lords has just published a new report that calls on the Government to reclassify in game loot boxes as gambling.
While we’ve all had possibly more pressing matters on our minds of late, the influence of loot boxes on the gaming industry hasn’t gone away. The UK House of Lords has been investigating this issue and has just published a new report that seems to suggest that the UK government should be looking to view these surprise mechanics as “games of chance”, thus regulating them as gambling under UK Law.
The report from the House of Lords Select Committee on the Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry doesn’t just look at loot boxes, but moreover the harm that gambling can cause to individuals. The report specifically sets out the following recommendation as part of its key findings:
The Government must act immediately to bring loot boxes within the remit of gambling legislation and regulation.
All in, the report has around 66 key points to pass onto the UK government, and this does not mean that the Uk government has to listen to this report from the upper house. A committee for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has already looked into the impact of digital loot boxes as part of a study last year and they found that paid loot boxes should be regulated as if they are gambling, under UK law. While many of us reading this will agree with the committee when they state that “We echo the conclusions of the Children’s Commissioner’s report, that if a product looks like gambling and feels like gambling, it should be regulated as gambling”, it is not necessarily going to make a change quite yet.
Tighter regulation may not eliminate loot boxes either. The in game options that drop random rewards, incentivising players to spend time or money for a chance of grabbing that item they want can easily be pushed into purchase models that use in game currency, separating the direct link to real life cash, or abiding by other rules that do not remove this system from video games. Whether the UK lawmakers take up this recommendation, we will have to wait and see. You can find the full report over at the UK Parliament website.