Loot boxes and their status is one of the most debated topics in the world of gaming. It is a highly controversial issue and a number of countries have taken measure to regulate or even restrict the use of loot boxes. As a result, loot boxes have been removed from a number of games.
We did cover this issue on a number of occasions in the past. Last year, there was increased pressure on the UK Government to act and introduce rules and restrictions and this summer there were calls to classify loot boxes as gambling.
Many Brits are still spending a lot of money on loot boxes and it has been reported that gamers spent thousands during lockdown, i.e. the fact that people had a lot more spare time and spent a lot more time playing video games.
Some players spend a lot of money
The NHS has reported that there is an issue especially for young gamers and the situation has deteriorated during lockdown. Players buy loot boxes in an attempt to get the items they need. So far, so good, there isn’t a problem with in-game purchases. But, with loot boxes you don’t need what kind of item or items you are going to get. It can be more or less valuable and that is the gambling element. You are putting money without knowing what you’re getting.
One FIFA fan from Whitby said that he and his family have spent thousands. He added that it is easy to lose track and that it happened to him on more than one occasion to spend £50 or £60 in one night. It is not a problem in itself, he said, but it can become a problem when you’re spending a lot f money. The NHS Northern Gambling Service have said that it is a new phenomenon and there isn’t enough research, but there are sufficient cases to draw conclusions and the situation is quite serious.
The whole situation has been rendered a perfect storm, particularly considering that people have a lot of time on their hands. Things can get out of hand quickly and representatives of the Northern Gambling Services have stated that there isn’t sufficient regulations that would prevent people from spending too much money on it. The line between gaming and gambling can be quite thin and that is quite evident in this case.
There might be further action, says minister
On the other hand, loot boxes and the revenue from their sales are not taxed as gambling and operators aren’t required to hold a license in order to be able to sell loot boxes. One mother from Yorkshire who had a gambling addiction stated that she was worried that her son will develop a similar habit after she noticed that he spends money on loot boxes. In her opinion, it should be classed as gambling.
The trade association of the UK gaming industry released a statement claiming that they support implementing limitations, and allowing players to be in control of their gaming spend. The digital and culture minister, Caroline Dinenage said that the Government is listening to the concerns and will investigate the matter further, before deciding whether additional restrictions are needed.