UK Charity Calls On Government To Regulate Loot Boxes

The loot box market is worth £20bn globally and around £700m in the UK, with many in games popular with children

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UK Charity Calls On Government To Regulate Loot Boxes

UK Charity Calls On Government To Regulate Loot Boxes

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has published a report revealing that young people see some in-game purchases as addictive. The charity is calling for regulation over loot boxes and skin betting. Loot boxes are mystery items embedded within games that can be purchased for randomised rewards, including “skins” which change the appearance of a character. The skins can then be used to trade on third-party websites for real money.

When it comes to loot boxes, the charity added its efforts to growing calls for a thorough overhaul of the UK’s gambling regulation. Previously, the election manifesto of the Conservatives has described the existing gambling legislation as unsuitable for the quickly digitalising gambling market and pledged to consider a possible crackdown on loot boxes.

Now, the RSPH has called for the British Government to roll out legislation categorising betting-style features as gambling. Such a move would mean that video games developers would be forced to quit offering loot boxes or, at least, roll out some age restrictions on certain games. For the time being, this market niche is worth £700 million on the territory of the UK.

RSPH chief executive Shirley Cramer said:

“Young people have told us that gambling and gambling-like activity are slowly but surely polluting hobbies and pastimes that have traditionally been beneficial to their wellbeing. Today, the vast majority of young people take part regularly in video-gaming and no doubt many will receive video games as Christmas presents.”

She added:

“However, we, and the young people we’ve spoken to, are concerned at how firmly embedded gambling-type features are in many of these games. The rise of loot boxes and skin betting have seen young people introduced to the same mechanisms that underpin gambling, through an industry that operates unchecked and unregulated on the back alleys of the internet, which young people can access from their bedrooms.”

The RSPH cited research, funded by fellow charity GambleAware, that found that two in five young gamers bought loot boxes and that more than half believed video games could induce them to gamble. The youngest survey respondents were most likely to accept gambling-style products as a normal part of gaming.

A government spokesperson said:

“Problem gambling can devastate lives, which is why we are absolutely committed to protecting young people from gambling-related harm. We have committed to a review of the Gambling Act and take concerns around loot boxes in video games very seriously.”

The report said such deals weakened efforts to protect young people from being influenced by gambling marketing.

Shirley Cramer, Chief Executive Officer of the RSPH, has shared that nowadays, most young people are regularly playing video games and are exposed to the possible harmful impact which gambling-like features may have on their lives. According to Ms Cramer, the increasing popularity of loot boxes and so-called skin betting has made it possible for young people to reach the same mechanisms that support gambling.

A study has found that about 40% of young people aged 11-24 spend real money to purchase virtual items available in video games such as Call of Duty and Fortnite. As Casino Guardian previously reported, many of these teenagers and young adults often use the credit cards of their parents to purchase loot boxes and skins without actually knowing what they would get.

As revealed by research funded by GambleAware and cited by the RSPH, two in five young people who play video games purchased special in-game feature such as loot boxes. The study, in which 1,100 youngsters participated, found that 93% of them play video games on a regular basis, while 91% admit that loot boxes are offered in the games they play. Also, one in four children between 11 and 14 years of age had purchased a loot box in the week before the survey took place.

More than 50% of these young people believed that video games could lure them into gambling, and what is even worse, the youngest respondents of the survey were most likely to take gambling-style products simply as part of video gaming.

Previous pieces of research on the matter have found that children who are exposed at various gambling-style in-game features from an early age are more likely to become addicted to gambling at a later stage of their lives. And problem gambling is now known for being able to ruin lives not only of gamblers but also their families.

Previous pieces of research on the matter have found that children who are exposed at various gambling-style in-game features from an early age are more likely to become addicted to gambling at a later stage of their lives. And problem gambling is now known for being able to ruin lives not only of gamblers but also their families.

The report was the result of months of evidence gathering, and proposed that loot boxes be regulated under under gambling law.

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