UK’s Government Demands that Video Game Loot Boxes be Immediately Classified as Gambling

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It seems that the loot box controversy that spiked years ago when Battlefront II came out is still making waves across the world as a whole, with many nations considering what role they will play in their legal assessment of gambling.

A mere month after the government of the United Kingdom made a call to acquire evidence regarding the function of loot boxes and whether or not they should be regulated more than they are right now, a House of Lords Select Committee on gambling has deemed that loot boxes should immediately be re-classified from their current status to gambling, according to GameIndustry.biz.

This open call for evidence was due to the original inquiry into loot boxes, with the intent of examining the results alongside the review of the UK’s Gambling Act 2005. With both reports now available to the UK government, they have condemned loot boxes quite readily and with little room for misinterpretation.

“The liberalization of gambling by the Gambling Act 2005, the universal adoption of smartphones, and the exploitation of soft-touch regulation by gambling operators has created a perfect storm of addictive 24/7 gambling,” the Lords report reads.

“The Government must act immediately to bring loot boxes within the remit of gambling legislation and regulation,” the report reads, with loot boxes defined as “all mechanisms by which a player pays money for a randomized item.”

The government itself has yet to respond to this most recent report on loot boxes, as it is likely that they are waiting for that aforementioned evidence that was called for to actually be present before making such a decision. That said, it seems quite possible that the United Kingdom could become yet another country to mark loot boxes as gambling, thus joining nations like Belgium and the Netherlands in making them illegal.

This would also make them the opposite of some other nations, such as New Zealand and France, which have decided to forego condemning loot boxes as gambling. As for the United States, an anti-loot box bill failed to pass government discretion after it received some particularly harsh criticism from the gaming industry. In Australia, one of their committees has considering including age-gating loot box transactions. Either way, it seems that the loot box controversy that picked up back when Battlefront II came out is being considered by a wide variety of nations in various different lights. It is somewhat difficult to guess what type of effect all of this may have on loot boxes and the gaming industry in general: supposedly, for some nations, it probably won’t affect anything at all.

Case in point, it’s unlikely that microtransactions will never be illegal in the United States. But, if some countries make it illegal and some don’t, it’s pretty likely that game designers and publishers will have to find ways to work around that for their international titles. It could be as simple as selling different versions of the same game.