Loot boxes have been seen as a controversial aspect of the games industry. There have been calls to class loot boxes as a form of gambling including from the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Committee. Belgium has banned loot boxes in games and both Australia and the United States are investigating the impact of loot boxes and if they should be considered a form of gambling.
Over the weekend there was another call for loot boxes to be banned from gaming, and this came from NHS England’s National Mental Health Director Claire Murdoch, who previously worked as a mental health nurse for 34 years. Her comments come as the NHS begins to open treatment centres for gambling addictions.
In her statement Claire Murdoch said:
“Frankly, no company should be setting kids up for addiction by teaching them to gamble on the content of these loot boxes. No firm should sell to children loot box games with this element of chance, so yes those sales should end. Young people’s health is at stake, and although the NHS is stepping up with these new, innovative services available to families through our Long Term Plan, we cannot do this alone, so other parts of society must do what they can to limit risks and safeguard children’s wellbeing.”
According to the UK Gambling Commission 55,000 children have a gambling problem, with the NHS stating that over 400,000 people may have a significant gambling problem. Additional data has found over 50% of parents allow children to play games rated 18 without supervision, and 86% of parents believed that allowing kids to play 18 rated games would have no influence. However, if was then found that 62% of parents had attempted to stop their children playing such games after they said they noticed problems. What those problems are were not explicitly expressed.
Source: NHS England