The UK Gambling Commission has stated once more that loot boxes in video games can not be classified as a form of gambling under the current legislation.
This is due to what is defined as gambling. To most people, a gamble would be when you pay some money and there is a chance you might win something nice, or you might get something rubbish, or possibly nothing at all. In UK Law gambling is defined as paying for the chance to win something that has a monetary value, something you could resell. As most in-game items are tied to user accounts and non transferable anything you win in a loot box is for your own use and cannot be resold.
Gambling Commission chief executive Neil McCarthur spoke in front of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport select committee and admitted that there were “significant concerns” with children paying for loot boxes.
“There are other examples of things that look and feel like gambling that legislation tells you are not – [such as] some prize competitions but because they have free play or free entry they are not gambling… but they are a lot like a lottery,” he said.
There are third party sites that allow for skin gambling or the purchase of FIFA packs, but these are a grey area. “There is unquestionably a demand for a secondary market,” said Gambling Commission programme director Brad Enright, adding that EA faced “a constant battle” against unauthorised sites selling FIFA items.
Valve were singled out during the meeting as Counterstrike: Global Offensive is the source of most complaints due to third party skin betting sites. “Where we have drawn their attention to British consumers, including children, taking part in gambling, they have closed [skin betting sites] down,” said Mr Enright. “We think Valve in the US should do more.”
Rockstar have just opened a casino in GTA Online where you can use real money to buy GTA$ and use these to gamble. As any winnings are returned in GTA$ and there is no method of exchanging GTA$ back in the real cash then under UK law this is not classified as gambling.
Except it clearly is.
Isn’t legislation fun!