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UK Gambling Commission Concerned about Blurry Lines between Videogames and Gambling

27 November 2017

(Although the timing of the post suggests it may be a response to questions from UK Parliament.) According to the Gambling Commission, loot boxes now do not meet the classification of gambling as laid out by Parliamentary law because they do not pay out a direct currency.

"The perception factor is the one that has most enraged some elements of the gamer community - a concern that loot boxes in some way are an unfair way for publishers to make money at the consumer's expense", he said. "We are aware of the issues that lead players to experience latencies on the game servers", he said on the official Star Wars Battlefront II forums. As the regulator we patrol that line and where an activity crosses it and presents a risk to people, especially children, we have and will take robust action.

Our starting point in deciding our position with any product is to look closely at whether or not it falls under United Kingdom gambling law. "Our role is to apply that definition to activities that we see and any changes to that definition need to be made by Parliament". The definition of what is legally classed as gambling is set by Parliament rather than by us.

According to UK Gambling Commission Executive Director Tim Miller, loot boxes in games like Star Wars Battlefront 2 and Overwatch aren't gambling because the items obtained in these loot boxes can't be considered money or money's worth. It recommended that some sort of controls be put in place and said that, although it has no legal power to step in, it would be happy to consult on the issue with any other authority with the power to do so. It reiterated its mission to protect children from potentially predatory practices, and it will continue investigating loot boxes in instances where the line between video gaming and gambling is blurred. But although it decided it would be overstepping its own responsibilities in attempting to regulate video gaming microtransactions, it cautioned that this does not imply that loot boxes and similar mechanics do not pose a risk for children. Where it does meet the definition of gambling it is our job to ensure that children are protected and we have lots of rules in place, like age verification requirements, to do that.

"Mixing gambling and gaming, especially at a young age, is unsafe for the mental health of the child", said Belgian Minister of Justice Koen Geens.

UK Gambling Commission Concerned about Blurry Lines between Videogames and Gambling