The UK Wants More Info To Decide Whether Loot Boxes Are Gambling

A 2019 report into addictive video game elements has been assessed, but the UK is looking closer at loot boxes.

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Last year, a Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee in the UK sat down with executives from major games companies to talk about loot boxes. That committee's report has been released, but the government has decided that more info on loot boxes is needed, and will launch a call for evidence.

The committee on "immersive and addictive technologies" recommended that games with chance-based loot boxes should not be sold to children, and that PEGI guidelines should be updated to reflect this. Since the report was compiled, PEGI has added a new designation for "paid random items", as well as increasing the age recommendation for games featuring "simulated gambling"--a change that was also adopted by ESRB.

However, the UK government has decided this is not quite enough, and will be launching "a review of the Gambling Act 2005, with a particular focus on tackling issues around loot boxes." The new call for evidence on loot boxes comes as part of this review, though details on the call for evidence haven’t yet been released.

The UK is one of many countries that has investigated loot boxes in recent years. Countries including New Zealand and France have ruled that loot boxes don't constitute gambling, while Belgium and The Netherlands have banned them outright. A proposed loot box bill in the US failed after facing harsh criticism from the industry, while an Australian committee has made recommendations including age-gating loot box transactions.

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