In the past weeks, loot boxes in video games have received numerous criticisms claiming that it is a form of gambling, which is why a petition was submitted to the UK government. The petition is asking current gambling laws to include 'gambling' in video games, which targets children. Currently, the petition has already received the 10k signatures required to warrant a response from the UK government.
The petition description states that "Many video game companies in recent years have introduced mechanics which are essentially gambling of which are targeted at children and vulnerable adults," Many critics claim that they consider loot boxes as 'gambling' in video games mostly because of the use of in-game currency, which is most often bought with real world money, in order to earn in-game items that most of the time is worth less than what they paid.
They also copy some traits of real world gambling that may be addictive since there is no way to know what is inside the loot box one is getting, which can lead to gamers buying more loot boxes if they are disappointed with the contents of the one they received.
The petition is pushing the UK government to amend current gambling laws to include loot boxes. Daniel Zeichner, a Labour MP for Cambridge, has already submitted two written questions to the Secretary of State on behalf or his constituent and Reddit user Artfunkel. The questions submitted are:
“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".
Conservative MP Tracey Crouch provided a response to the two questions submitted by Zeichner regarding loot boxes and in-game gambling. The full statement can be read here, but in a nutshell it says that:
"protecting children and vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited by gambling" is "a priority for the government." The statement ends by saying "The government recognise the risks that come from increasing convergence between gambling and computer games. The Gambling Commission is keeping this matter under review and will continue to monitor developments in the market."
The UK Government is yet to address the online petition submitted.