Despite recent reports to the contrary from the wider media, the UK Gambling Commission has argued that UK loot boxes do not represent a direct link to gambling. Loot boxes have been something of a problem child in video games over the last couple of years. The likes of Belgium and the Netherlands have even put in measures to change how they are sold.
Earlier this week, the UK Gambling Commission released an audit which claimed that the number of young (aged between 11-16) “problem gamblers” has increased. According to the audit, there are around 55,000 young teenagers in the UK who can be considered problem gamblers. Up to 70,000 more youngsters are seemingly in risk of developing serious gambling problems, while around 450,000 children aged between 11-16 bet on a regular basis. Part of the audit (as per the linked Sky News article above), argued that “close to a million young people [have] been exposed to gambling through loot boxes.”
Despite the audit, however, it seems as though the UK Gambling Commission doesn’t feel that loot boxes are the root of the gambling issues of youngsters in the UK. Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, the UK Gambling Commission argued that the media at large got it wrong. They argue that loot boxes are not a gateway to gambling. A spokesperson for the UK Gambling Commission explained: “We’ve not in any way, in the survey, referred to it as exposure to gambling.” Instead, the UK Gambling Commission simply said it was collecting data on UK loot boxes. “The reason we’ve asked that question is that it’s a very popular subject matter and we want to try and make sure that we have as much information and data around it as possible.”
“I think the confusion is… across Europe there are different views.” The spokesperson adds that the UK Gambling Commission is “more aligned to what the Netherlands’ stance is on it. Obviously, Belgium has taken its own stance.” Belgium has deemed loot boxes illegal and just yesterday, Square Enix pulled three mobile games after the ban. The Netherlands meanwhile has argued that some loot boxes are gambling.