The House of Lords Calls For "Immediate" Loot Box Regulation

The UK's House of Lords calls for loot boxes to face gambling regulations

A report published by the House of Lords Gambling Industry Committee on Thursday has called for an urgent review of legislation, as well as a number of policy proposals including the creation of a gambling ombudsman, a ban on betting firms sponsoring sports teams and advertising at venues, and the classification of video game "loot boxes" as a form of gambling and subject to relevant legislation. Nine months later and the House of Lords is again pushing for immediate regulation.

Loot boxes can be bought in several games - such as these popular with older players like Federation Internationale de Football Association - and also provide randomised rewards, a few of which are worth much more than the total cost of the purchase. In both games, players could spend money to buy a key that opens a box with a random weapon skin or customization option.

Some other countries, such as Belgium for example, now class loot boxes as gambling, which has meant some titles available in the country that feature the mechanic have had to be removed from sale or adjusted.

As a result, loot box systems have come under fire by governments and consumer advocacy organizations as addictive and dangerously similar to gambling. Well, the House of Lords as an unelected body always has to justify their actions. Additionally, it says "the young are most at risk" in terms of developing problem gambling behaviours.

"Most people who gamble, enjoy it safely. It has been replicated across the world, from Canada to Finland to the U.K". A committee for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has already looked into the impact of digital loot boxes as part of a study past year and they found that paid loot boxes should be regulated as if they are gambling, under United Kingdom law. The U.K. Gambling Commission first took an interest in loot boxes in August 2016 when it released a position paper titled "Virtual currencies, eSports, and social casino gaming."In that report, the Commission suggested that loot boxes might be gambling".

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The report outlined 66 recommendations for the betting and gaming industry, including a reduction in gambling advertising, enhanced funding for research into problem gambling and further measures to ensure the protection of children and vulnerable people. It said the liberalisation of the industry via the Gambling Act 2005, the universal adoption of smartphones and the "exploitation of soft-touch regulation by gambling operations has created a ideal storm of addictive 24/7 gambling".

The impact of loot boxes makes up only one chapter of the report, drawing on evidence from Dr David Zendle, a computer science lecturer at the University of York.

With the recommendations effectively stating that gambling endorsements should effectively be done away with, including sponsorship on uniforms, team-wear, apparel, merchandise and the like, this could also have a knock-on effect on the burgeoning esports gaming wear and merchandise industries too.

Should these boxes be banned? Loot boxes generally give players rare and exclusive items.

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