The debate on loot boxes seem to never end. Video game publishers who make use of them vehemently deny that it is gambling. On the flip side, consumers who have been affected by it would say otherwise. UK MPs are also demanding an explanation as to why the government doesn’t consider them a form of gambling.
Damian Collins, Chairperson of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee said that loot boxes are very lucrative for game publishers. That said, they come at a high cost for problem gamblers, as well as exposing children to potential harm. He also says that it’s about time that UK gambling laws caught up to the reality of the situation.
Under current UK gambling laws, for something to be gambling it has to officially have prizes that is money, or have monetary value. In games like FIFA 19, it is possible to make money from the FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) mode. But because it’s not officially sanctioned by Electronic Arts, it’s also not considered gambling.
The committee also said the video game industry was reluctant to accept responsibility for intervening when a player was overspending. In a previous incident when four children cleaned out their parents’ bank account buying FUT packs, all EA did was provide guidelines to control in-game spending.
This puts the UK behind at least two other European countries that have labeled loot boxes as gambling. EA has also previously called them surprise mechanics which, in practice, provided surprises to both children and parents alike.