The UK House of Lords has urged the government to reclassify loot boxes as gambling. A new report published by the Select Committee says the government "must act immediately" in order to bring loot boxes under the purview of British gambling legislation and regulation. You can take a look at the full report right here.
These recommendations come as part of a broader recommendation that the UK must act quickly to reduce gambling-related harm. In the new House of Lords report, the Select Committee makes 66 recommendations about how the government can act to protect consumers from gambling harm. Among those 66 recommendations are 7 key points "across different areas" which aim to acutely reduce gambling-related harm. Loot box reclassification is one of the 7 key points. Others include the creation of an independent gambling ombudsman and the removal of gambling advertising on sporting merchandise.
What is the context for the House of Lords' loot box report?
Loot boxes have been part of the international gaming conversation for some time. These new UK recommendations follow on from a suggestion back in June courtesy of the Guardian that the DCMS (Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport) could reclassify loot boxes as gambling. A number of other nations around the world have also made investigations into loot box gambling including Australia, the USA, and Sweden.
In response to the House of Lords' recommendations, UK gaming trade body UKIE (Association for UK Interactive Entertainment) issued a response. In the statement, UKIE claims that the UK games industry "has been working hard" to address the report's concerns. The body also says Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft have made commitments to publicly disclose loot box drop rates, as well as pointing to PEGI's new "paid random item" warning symbol.
It's worth noting that a recent Ofcom report found that only 4% of UK adults have ever bought loot boxes in premium or free-to-play games. The number goes up to 6% among children aged 5 to 15 for free-to-play games, but only 3% of children have bought loot boxes in premium titles. The new House of Lords report acknowledges that the UK Gambling Commission previously found most people who play social games "spend very modest amounts of time and money", but that research indicates loot box spending is linked to problem gambling. We'll bring you more on this situation as it develops.
How do you feel about the ongoing conversation around loot boxes? Let us know in the comments below!