The UK’s House of Lords has issued a report on the subject of loot boxes in videogames, and has concluded that loot boxes should be classed as gambling. The report also states that this classification should happen immediately. Last month, the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport put out a call for evidence as it continued to investigate whether loot boxes should be considered gambling. Back in September, the DCMS recommended that loot boxes get classed as gambling but no legislation as been passed to incorporate those recommendations. In the report and a statement accompanying it the House of Lords said:
“If a product looks like gambling and feels like gambling, it should be regulated as gambling…The government must act immediately to bring loot boxes within the remit of gambling legislation and regulation.”
If legislation is passed to state that loot boxes do constitute as gambling they would fall under the purview of the Gambling Commission. In the UK, children are not allowed to gamble so any games with loot box elements would have to be changed to accommodate a younger audience or not be allowed to be sold to children when they are playing games. The DCMS recommended that loot boxes be added to the Gambling Act of 2005, and stated the government should confirm in writing why it chooses not to follow the recommendation if it does not add loot boxes to the Act. However, games with loot boxes do now have an in game purchases notice as the part of the PEGI rating.
Belgium was one of the first countries to ban loot boxes which caused Nintendo to close down two of its mobile titles in the country, EA removing FIFA Points from sale, Blizzard removing the option to buy loot boxes with real money, and 2K turning off the option to buy packs in NBA 2K. There has been a growing number of governments that have begun focusing on the impact of loot boxes with both Australia and the US among those nations.