The Report mentioned below never says that Loot Boxes lead to an increase. This appears to be a conclusion drawn by some, and which we have mistakenly passed along. Speaking to GamesIndustry.Biz a spokeswomen for the UK Gambling Commission said:
We've not in anyway, in the survey, referred to it as exposure to gambling. 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.They have taken more steps against skin gambling sites where you bet skins and the confusion seems to be around that, previous concerns expressed by the UK Gambling Commission and the fact that loot boxes have been on the rise at the same time that the number of child gamblers has significantly risen. This, however, also matches the timeframe that social media sites have had more reach on the topic.
It is possible that the UK Gambling Commission may indeed, at a later date, find that loot boxes are a gateway to gambling but that is not today.
The original article is below.
A report by the UK's Gambling Commission has classified loot boxes as a form of, or gateway to, online gambling.
The report looks into the rise in the number of children classed as having a gambling problem, which it says has quadrupled to over 50,000 in two years. Overall, the report estimates that the number of children between the ages of 11 and 16 who bet regularly is around 450,000, which would mean more children gamble than smoke, take drugs or drink alcohol.
Lootboxes are specifically named in the Gambling Commission's report as a form of online gambling. According to the report, 31% of respondents have "opened loot boxes in a computer game or app, to try to acquire in-game items", while 3% have engaged in "skin gambling" (using in-game cosmetic items to bet on the outcome of a professional match in games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive or League of Legends).
There's a lot more data in the actual report, although most of it isn't actually focused around loot boxes; Ipsos Mori were looking more generally into the problem of child gambling rather than specifically at video games, so the range of data is broad. The survey had 2,865 respondents, all aged between 11 and 16, and was carried out between February and July this year. Like last year's survey, this one identifies the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV) criteria for having a gambling addiction. If a child was found to fulfill four or more of the below criteria, then they would officially be classed as addicted to gambling.
The UK Gambling Commission's executive director, Tim Miller, said the figures in the report should "make people sit up and listen". He went on to say that the most common environments in which children preferred to gamble were informal - private bets or card games. One assumes this would include video games, as children don't have to visit gambling sites to open loot boxes.
What this report will mean for the future of loot boxes in UK gaming is unclear. Countries like Finland and Belgium have already put measures in place to combat loot boxes in video games, so it's not unfeasible to imagine the UK doing the same. We'll have more on this story as we get it.
How do you feel about loot boxes in gaming? What are your thoughts on this report? Let us know in the comments below!