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GambleAware urges legislative action over loot boxes

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GambleAware is calling on the UK government to take legislative action to protect children and youth from loot-boxes in video games.

The current government released its conclusions last week from an evidence call that was launched on September 2020 to gather opinions about how best to address in-game features.

Players can purchase loot boxes with real-money and receive random items, such as virtual clothes or powerups that help them compete in the game.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport did not ban loot-boxes outright, but it called on developers to do more to protect their players.

GambleAware responded to the White Paper by saying it was encouraged that the government is now recognizing the dangers of loot boxs. The report noted that 40 percent of video game players use loot box, which it believes leads to the normalisation gambling-like behaviours.

It added, however, that the UK’s new government – which will soon be announced following Boris Johnson’s resignation as prime minister – should take legislative action to limit their use.

The charity stated that “research shows loot box is psychologically similar to gambling and that more appropriate protection will help prevent gambling-related harms in the future.”

Children and youth are exposed to gambling every day. They can be at risk of gambling-related harm from both their participation and that of others.

According to the National Audit Office in the UK there are approximately 55,000 children who experience gambling harms between the ages of 11 and 16 years. Another 85,000 people may be at risk. We believe that more can be done to protect children and youth.

We look forward to seeing the Video Games Research Framework published later in the year. This framework will hopefully guide and inform the legislation that protects children and youth from harms related to gambling through video games.

This response follows Dame Rachel de Souza’s last-week comments against loot box video games. She called them “inappropriate”, and asked that they be added to the UK Gambling Act definition of gambling.

De Souza stated that the clause 6 of the Gambling Act needs to be extended to cover loot boxs, and they should therefore be subject to regulation.

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