UK Gambling Commission Releases Official Statement on Loot Boxes

Loot Boxes

As gambling regulators and other influential bodies continue to investigate loot boxes and their impact in video games, the UK Gambling Commission has released their official stance on loot boxes.

Like other organizations, the UK Gambling Commission looked into loot boxes after gamers petitioned and drew attention to the topic. In their statement, Tim Miller, the executive director of the commission, explained that their first step is to see if a product or situation could legally fall under gambling laws before they investigate further. But when it comes to loot boxes in video games with items that are confined to those games, Miller said that the product doesn't exactly fit as an example of gambling.

"A key factor in deciding if that line has been crossed is whether in-game items acquired 'via a game of chance' can be considered money or money's worth. In practical terms this means that where in-game items obtained via loot boxes are confined for use within the game and cannot be cashed out it is unlikely to be caught as a licensable gambling activity. In those cases our legal powers would not allow us to step in."

Miller does add that when it comes to loot boxes and similar purchases in games, whether they can legally be considered "gambling" isn't the main concern for parents and players.

"However, many parents are not interested in whether an activity meets a legal definition of 'gambling'. Their main concern is whether there is a product out there that could present a risk to their children. We are concerned with the growth in examples where the line between video gaming and gambling is becoming increasingly blurred. 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."

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The executive director rightly said that parents and others will expect precautions to be taken against products that are seemingly harmful, but without the loot boxes being considered gambling, it's not something that the UK Gambling Commission could regulate on their own, Miller adding that they'd be willing to share "experienced and expertise" with others that would be able to regulate the games.

You can read the full statement from Miller and the UK Gambling Commission here.