Petition Extend the Gambling Act to cover Loot Boxes
Video game companies avoid predatory Loot Boxes being defined as gambling on the technicality items received can't be redeemed for money despite clearly being gambling otherwise. Update the Gambling Act to include purchases providing randomized digital items even if they do not have monetary value.
This response was given on 6 July 2020
The government takes concerns around loot boxes very seriously and will be launching a call for evidence this summer. This will put us on the best footing to take whatever action is necessary.
Over half the UK population plays games, the vast majority engaging safely with content that allows them to enjoy fun, exciting play, find moments of relaxation, socialise, and learn new skills. However, technology in video games is constantly evolving and it is important that government policy reflects this.
We also believe the approach to protecting young people and vulnerable people should be based on evidence. To guide this approach, it will be important to understand fully the existing research around loot boxes, and how current protections and legislation work to keep people safe. That is why on the 8th June 2020 the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced in a written statement to Parliament that we will be launching an open call for evidence on loot boxes later on in the summer. This will also support the review of the Gambling Act 2005.
The loot box call for evidence will seek and examine further information on a range of issues. These include concerns that loot boxes might lead to an increase in problem gambling, particularly amongst young people. Other areas we will investigate include the size of the loot box market, the design of loot boxes, how loot boxes work alongside other types of in-game purchases, and the effectiveness of the current statutory and voluntary regulation.
In addition to a written call for evidence, we plan to hold a series of sessions to discuss issues and solutions in detail, including the most effective approaches to protect people from any harms identified. Full details of the call for evidence and how to respond will be announced shortly with initial findings expected by the end of the year.
The government stands ready to take action should the outcomes of the call for evidence support taking a new approach to ensure users, and particularly young people, are protected.
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
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Other parliamentary business
House of Lords Committee calls for gambling law to be extended to cover loot boxes
A House of Lords Committee has published a report on Gambling Harm, which highlights evidence that loot boxes cause gambling problems or exploit problem gambling, and calls for the Government to extend gambling legislation to cover loot boxes.
The report stresses that the Gambling Act does not need amending to allow it to cover loot boxes; ministers already have the power to make regulations to do this, so it could be done in a matter of weeks.
You can read a press release about the report here: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/406/gambling-industry-committee/news/147122/time-to-act-to-reduce-gamblingrelated-harm-says-lords-report/
And you can can read the full report here: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld5801/ldselect/ldgamb/79/79.pdf
The section of the report about loot boxes is from paragraph 422 to 446.
You can find out more about the House of Lords Select Committee on the Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry here: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/406/gambling-industry-committee/