Loot Boxes Should Be Self-Regulated or We’ll Do It Ourselves, Says UK Gov

Loot Box UK

After nearly two years of collecting and analyzing evidence, the UK government has finally issued a definitive response on the matter of loot boxes in the games industry. In short, the government is calling for platform providers and the industry as a whole to self-regulate as it would be better than drafting specific legislation; however, if that doesn't happen, it will consider legislative options in the future.

The call for evidence has shown that the purchase of loot boxes may be linked to a variety of harms. In particular, there is robust evidence of an association with problem gambling. However, research has not established whether a causal relationship exists between the purchase of loot boxes and problem gambling and there are a range of plausible explanations that could underpin this association. 

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[...] The government is calling on games companies and platforms to improve protections for children, young people and adults and for all players. An industry-led approach, at least in the first instance, avoids the risk of unintended consequences which may be associated with legislation, and can enable the development of tailored tools and information that work across what is a varied sector. Industry-led measures would be adaptable, and may be more able to keep pace with a fast-changing environment for in-game purchases, in comparison to legislative option.

While our view is that it would be premature to pursue legislative options with regards to loot boxes without first pursuing enhanced industry-led protections, we will not hesitate to consider such options if we deem this necessary to protect children, young people and adults.

The response also includes an assessment of whether the Gambling Act should be amended to include loot boxes. Despite the House of the Lords Select Committee on the Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry's stance, the UK government does not currently plan to classify loot boxes as gambling.

After careful consideration, the government does not intend to amend or extend the scope of gambling regulation to cover loot boxes at this time. In doing so, we have considered regulating loot boxes as gambling as one means of achieving some of our objectives to mitigate the risk of harms for children, young people and adults, and have concluded that it would come with significant limitations which make other policy solutions to achieve the same ends preferable.

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