Loot box

GambleAware has called on the UK’s new government to consider taking legislative action on the use of loot boxes in video games, with it noted that this should be with regards to “limiting the access of children and young people to these products”.

This comes after a Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport inquiry ruled against taking legislative action following a two-year investigation into the virtual items.

After opening a call for evidence in 2020, the government suggested that the purchase of loot boxes should be made unavailable to children and young people unless they are approved by a parent or guardian.

Furthermore, a working group will also be convened to unite games companies, platforms and regulatory bodies to develop industry-led protocols to protect players and reduce the risk of harm. This will include measures such as parental controls, and making sure transparent, accessible information is available to all players.

A ‘ Video Games Research Framework’ will also be launched after it was found that a need for better evidence to improve understanding of the positive and negative impacts of video games is required.

GambleAware noted that “we have long been concerned about loot boxes,” which the charity says are “used by 40 per cent of children who play video games” and are “leading to the normalisation of gambling-like activities”.

“We are therefore encouraged to see the government recognising these risks in the response to the call for evidence on loot boxes in video games,” a GambleAware statement noted.

“However, we hope that going forward, the new government may consider legislative action on their use, particularly with regards to limiting the access of children and young people to these products. 

“Research has shown that loot boxes are psychologically akin to gambling, and therefore more adequate protection would help to prevent future gambling related harms. 

“We look forward to the publication of the ‘Video Games Research Framework’ later this year, which we hope will guide and inform legislation to protect children and young people from gambling related harms through video games.”

This itself follows Dame Rachel de Souza, the Children’s Commissioner for England, hitting out at a lack of action when it comes to loot boxes in video games and calling for an expansion of the Gambling Act to include the virtual items.

Furthermore, Epic Risk Management also expressed deep disappointment that the UK has not recommended the introduction of legislation to govern the sale of loot boxes to minors.