A petition calling for gambling laws to be adapted to include video games with gambling mechanics has passed the 10k signatures needed to warrant a response from the UK government.
The petition, titled “adapt gambling laws to include gambling in video games which targets [sic] children”, calls for the government to change current gambling legislation to include “in-game gambling” such as loot boxes.
“Many video game companies in recent years have introduced mechanics which are essentially gambling of which are targeted at children and vulnerable adults,” the petition description reads. “While not currently considers [sic] gambling by law they do copy many traits to make them as addictive and can lead to real money being lost/earned.
“Gambling in video games mostly involves ‘loot boxes’ where players use virtual currency (often bought with real money) to earn in-game items often worth less than what they paid (sometimes more) hence it’s gambling.”
This is not the only call for the UK government to alter current gambling legislation to include loot boxes. A member of parliament has submitted questions to the Secretary of State regarding the protection of the young and vulnerable from gambling and loot boxes in games.
Daniel Zeichner, Labour MP for Cambridge, has submitted two written questions on behalf of reddit user and constituent Artfunkel: “to ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she plans to take to help protect vulnerable adults and children from illegal gambling, in-game gambling and loot boxes within computer games” and “to ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment the Government has made of the effectiveness of the Isle of Man’s enhanced protections against illegal and in-game gambling and loot boxes; and what discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on adopting such protections in the UK”.
The controversy surrounding loot boxes in video games has been gathering steam in recent weeks, with some claiming the practice is a form of gambling. In an investigation by Eurogamer last week, the Gambling Commission told us it did not define loot box mechanisms as gambling, since the items won from this feature have no real-world value. Due to this technicality, regulating boards such as PEGI, UKIE and the ESRB will not add a gambling disclaimer to games which include loot boxes or similar features.
Neither the questions submitted by Zeichner nor the petition have yet received a formal response by government.