Australian Proposal Would Mark Games With Gambling As 18+, Loot Boxes As 15+

A proposal from the Australian government would restrict games with "simulated gambling" as 18+, and those with loot boxes as 15+.


The government of Australia has proposed major changes to its national classifications system for video games. According to a recent press release, the changes would introduce a mandatory classification of R18+ of games with simulated gambling elements, and a classification of M (15+) for games with paid loot boxes.

As reported by ABC News, Communications Minister Michelle Rowland cites growing concerns about the harms of simulated gambling on children as the impetus for the proposal. The changes could impact games that include gambling elements as part of their narrative, or casino style mini-games.

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"We want to be very clear and very binary in this regard, and the certainty that is provided by a proposal that says if there is simulated gambling in a game, then it is subject to a particular rating," Rowland told ABC News. "That is the clearest indication that we can give not only to consumers, but also to industry."

However, the biggest change here would be for mainstream games aimed at general audiences that feature loot boxes. For example, if this proposal passes, the FIFA series would jump from a G rating (for general audiences) to the 15+ M rating. Though M games are recommended for people 15 years of age or older, younger people are not restricted from buying them, which is not the case with the R18+ rating.

Gambling is considered a serious social problem in Australia--a 2021 governmental report estimated that the country's citizens lost $25 billion on legal forms in gambling in 2018-19, the largest per capita losses in the world. Australia is far from the first country to regulate loot boxes in this manner. The mobile spin-off Diablo Immortal did not launch in the Netherlands or Belgium last year due to laws against loot boxes and other digital gambling elements.

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