According to a report by the BBC, the House of Lords Gambling Committee has finally made its move regarding loot boxes. The lords have determined that loot boxes should be considered “games of chance” going forward. Their primary argument is basically that if something looks and feels like gambling, it’s probably gambling.
The Gambling Committee’s report states that a connection has been established between problem gambling and loot box spending. Although this isn’t necessarily causal, the fact there’s any established link at all will be concerning for many gamers. A Jim Sterling analysis posted last year gave a platform for several heartbreaking stories that showcase what loot boxes can do people when unregulated.
The House of Lords wants loot boxes banned
Media and loot box expert Dr. David Zendle provided his view to the judiciary committee. According to Zendle, you can take one of two major observations from his findings. Either loot boxes cause problem gambling, or problem gamblers often resort to loot boxes. Either way, he believes legislation is needed to protect those most vulnerable.
Despite the term “loot box” being used, the House of Lords hasn’t limited its judgment to the traditional loot box design. Instead, any method in any game that takes a player’s income in return for RNG-based mechanics could be included. For example, this would also affect something like FIFA‘s pack system.
It is worth noting that while important, this isn’t a finalized legal verdict. As of now, the United Kingdom has still not passed any formal laws preventing the sale and distribution of loot boxes in video games. However, this will likely change in the near future.
If the British government does pass regulation, it won’t be the first European country to do so. In response to 2017’s Star Wars Battlefront controversy, Belgium banned any form of loot box appearing in any game sold there. Unlike Belgium, the UK seems more interested in restricting loot boxes to PEGI 18 titles. Even so, a full ban isn’t out of the question.