The Government has responded to a parliamentary written question on loot boxes in online games. The question, tabled by Lord Bishop of St Albans, questions the Government over their plans, if any, to ban loot boxes or regulate them through the Gambling Commission.
Answering the written question, Lord Hyde states that ‘the Government has no plans to ban loot boxes, or to amend Gambling Commission’s powers in relation to loot boxes.’ However, it is also noted that the Government is ‘aware of concerns that entertainment products, such as some video games, could encourage gambling-like behaviour, and will continue to look closely at any evidence around this issue.’
The full written parliamentary question can be found below:
Gambling: Video Games
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
29 March 2019
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have, if any to (1) ban loot boxes in online games, and (2) regulate such loot boxes through the Gambling Commission.
Lord Ashton of Hyde: Loot boxes do not fall under gambling law where the in-game items acquired are confined for use within the game and cannot be cashed out. The Government has no plans to ban loot boxes, or to amend Gambling Commission’s powers in relation to loot boxes. However, the Government is aware of concerns that entertainment products, such as some video games, could encourage gambling-like behaviour, and will continue to look closely at any evidence around this issue.
The Gambling Commission, as the regulator for gambling in Great Britain, has strong powers and can take action where it needs to address emerging risks.
In September 2018, the Gambling Commission, along with 15 other regulators from Europe and the USA, agreed to work together to monitor the characteristics of video games and social gaming and where there is potential cross-over into gambling. They will also work to raise parental and consumer awareness.
We welcome the introduction last year by the VSC Ratings Board and PEGI of a new label for video games to warn parents where they include the opportunity to make in-game purchases.