UK Gambling Commission Reveals Stance on Loot Boxes

Posted by Costin Dinescu on 12:30 PM

Casino News Daily
UK Gambling Commission Reveals Stance on Loot Boxes

The UK Gambling Commission published today its position on the highly controversial loot boxes within video games and whether these constitute a form of gambling. According to the UK gambling regulator, loot boxes cannot be considered a licensable form of gambling as long as items acquired via loot boxes “cannot be cashed out” by players.

The recent release of the Star Wars Battlefront II video game faced prompt backlash namely due to the use of the so-called loot boxes or loot crates. Basically, these contain items of various nature and value. Some of the items can be particularly valuable and can boost players’ performance significantly. However, players can become familiar with a loot box’s contents only after they have purchased it.

In a statement published on the UK Gambling Commission’s official website, Executive Director Tim Miller said that loot boxes were identified as potential risk to minors in a wider position paper presented by the regulator in 2016 and concerned with video games and features in those that could constitute gambling.

Mr. Miller went on to explain that the line between what is gambling and what is not could be very thin and one key factor needs to be taken into consideration before a decision on if the line has been crossed is made. The gambling regulator pointed out that if in-game items whose acquisition is based on chance can be “considered money or money’s worth”, then these constitute gambling. However, if such items cannot be cashed out and can only be used within the game, then it is more difficult for their obtaining to be considered a form of gambling. In this case, the Commission is not allowed to step in, Mr. Miller said, as it is its responsibility to regulate only activities that represent a form of gambling.

Other Regulator’s Stance on Loot Boxes

A number of gambling regulators have also voiced their opinion and concerns over the nature of loot boxes since the November 17 release of the new Star Wars video game. The Belgian Gaming Commission was among the first regulatory bodies to lash at the news that the game featured loot boxes. It opened investigation into the gambling nature of the controversial feature last week.

A number of media outlets brought the news on Thursday that the gambling regulator has found out that loot boxes were indeed a form of gambling. However, it seems that the Commission is yet to announce its position and conclusion from the probe.

The Netherlands Gaming Authority, Kansspelautoriteit, also said that it would investigate the matter. The regulator is known to be strongly opposed to any form of unregulated gambling that is targeting Dutch players.

An expert from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation’s Compliance Division said in a reply to a reddit user that loot boxes represented a form of gambling under the Australian state’s current gambling laws and that the items posed serious risks to minors and other vulnerable people as these normalized gambling.

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