In another damning strike against the loot box, United Kingdom officials have taken aim at the controversial in-game purchasing method. The House of Lords Gambling Committee says loot boxes should indeed be regulated, under the same gambling laws as other games of chance. No action has been taken as of yet.
However, the committee doesn’t want regulators to hang around. “The government must act immediately to bring loot boxes within the remit of gambling legislation and regulation,” said the committee in a statement. The report also emphasizes the link between this digital purchasing practice and traditional gambling: “There is academic research which proves that there is a connection, though not necessarily a causal link, between loot box spending and problem gambling.”
The U.K. isn’t the first region to look at this form of microtransaction more seriously. Back in 2018, Belgium banned the in-game purchase method, citing loot boxes as “in violation of gambling legislation.” That was declared by the Belgium Gaming Commission, who overlooks the industry. In the U.S., the ESRB added more upfront labels on applicable games that read “In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items).”
Whether the U.K. will follow Belgium in banning the practice remains to be seen. However, the Lords report does warn that “This issue requires more urgent attention” than a planned future review of the Gambling Act by the UK government.
Should these boxes be banned?