The UK government has issued a response to a petition that called for actions to be taken that would adapt gambling laws to include video game gambling.
While real-world gambling in video games is already a feature that’s denoted in a game’s rating if it’s present, this petition looks to include loot boxes under the umbrella of in-game content that should be recognized by the government’s gambling regulations. The petition in question gained over 15,000 signatures, an amount that prompts some type of response from Parliament which it’s recently received.
Unfortunately, the response itself doesn’t lend a great deal of confidence to those hoping any action would be taken, an answer that ultimately fails to categorize traditional loot boxes as a form of regulatable gambling.
The full response from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport is a bit wordy as you might expect, but it does touch on gambling in games as well as the topic of loot boxes.
It first highlights existing regulations concerning gambling for items in games, specifically those that can be converted into money or other real-world uses. There are already restrictions against those that prevent children from participating, but loot boxes don’t fall into that category, according to the government response:
“Where the facility exists for players of video games to purchase a key to unlock a bundle containing an unknown quantity and value of in-game items as a prize, and where there are readily accessible opportunities to cash in or exchange those awarded in-game items for money or money’s worth, then these elements of the game are likely to be considered licensable gambling activities,” the response reads. “In contrast, where prizes are restricted for use solely within the game, such in-game features would not be licensable gambling.”
The full response can be read here, and while it’s certainly appreciable that an answer was given, it fails to fully understand the issue of putting a certain dollar amount into a purchase and receiving something with a lesser value. When the earned item is randomized, that seems to tidily fit into the category of gambling, but it appears as though not much will change until regulatory bodies see it that way.