UK Gambling Commission issues blog post on loot boxes

UK Gambling Commission issues blog post on loot boxes
Sean Cleaver

By Sean Cleaver

November 27th 2017 at 10:45AM

Executive director Tim Miller lays out the reasoning behind the UK Commission's approach to loot boxes in games

The executive director of the UK Gambling Commission, Tim Miller, has posted a blog on the Commission's website, detailing the current concerns over loot boxes and gambling. 

The recent focus on the practice, thanks to both Star War Battlefront 2 by EA and Forza Motorsport 7 facing heavy criticism from players for in-game monetisation, has meant that many authorities across Europe have been taking a closer look at loot boxes and its links to gambling.

The UK Government has previously addressed loot boxes and believes that they do not represent gambling under UK law, however, Miller has decided to make this post in order to quell any further concern and explain some of the research that was already underway into loot boxes.

"In early 2016 we identified loot boxes as a potential risk to children and young people as part of a wider review on our concerns around video games and gambling themes," said Miller. "Our starting point in deciding our position with any product is to look closely at whether or not it falls under UK gambling law. The definition of what is legally classed as gambling is set by Parliament rather than by us. Our role is to apply that definition to activities that we see and any changes to that definition need to be made by Parliament.

"However, many parents are not interested in whether an activity meets a legal definition of ‘gambling’. Their main concern is whether there is a product out there that could present a risk to their children. We are concerned with the growth in examples where the line between video gaming and gambling is becoming increasingly blurred. Where it does meet the definition of gambling it is our job to ensure that children are protected and we have lots of rules in place, like age verification requirements, to do that."

The blog post does address that action has already been taken against sites and schemes that do breach the law, pointing to the prosecution of two men over FUTGalaxy, a FIFA Ultimate Team gambling site. In both cases, it is noted that the priority here, other than addressing anything that breaks the law or requires an amendment to the law, is the protection of children.