Labour MP asks whether loot boxes can be considered gambling in the UK

Labour MP asks whether loot boxes can be considered gambling in the UK

Daniel Zeichner, Labour MP for Cambridge, has submitted two questions with regards to loot boxes and whether they can be deemed as gambling

For the past couple of weeks, a debate has been raging in the gaming community as to whether loot boxes can be considered gambling. The ESRB and PEGI have already responded stating that it would not be up to them to decide whether loot boxes could be deemed as gambling.

Two questions have been (Q1 and Q2) posed by Zeichner to the Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP. the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. They are as follows:

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment the Government has made of the effectiveness of the Isle of Man’s enhanced protections against illegal and in-game gambling and loot boxes; and what discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on adopting such protections in the UK.

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she plans to take to help protect vulnerable adults and children from illegal gambling, in-game gambling and loot boxes within computer games.

The questions were asked by Cambridge constituent and NeoGaf users Audioboxer after meeting Zeichner two weeks ago. A petition has also been set up for UK residents to have the following question asked in Parliament.

Adapt gambling laws to include gambling in video games which targets children.

Many video game companies in recent years have introduced mechanics which are essentially gambling of which are targeted at children and vulnerable adults. While not currently considers gambling by law they do copy many traits to make them as addictive and can lead to real money being lost/earned.

The petition has now reached more than 10,00 signatures but needs to reach 100,000 signatures to have the question raised and debated in Parliament. It will be interesting to see whether the petition will gather pace. It’s a hot topic right now and opinion is split. What are your thoughts on loot boxes? Is it gambling?

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  • Paul Younger

    Founder and Editor of PC Invasion. Veteran PC gamer of over 22 years.

    • Lumi

      Definitely gambling, no doubt about it.

    • Col

      play games of chance for money; bet.
      “he gambles on football”
      take risky action in the hope of a desired result.
      “he was gambling on the success of his satellite TV channel”

      Maybe by definition 2, but how much of a risk are you taking? If some loot boxes were empty I could maybe see it but you’re always getting something from them. Besides do we really want the government getting involved in regulating games, particularly using the “think of the children” argument? That’s basically propping open the door for the next Jack Thompson. Don’t want loot boxes in your games? Don’t buy games with loot boxes then. It’s not complicated.

      • samplerico

        That logic doesn’t work: you don’t want weapons in your house? then don’t buy them. You don’t want whores in your street? then don’t pay them for sex. You don’t want drugs in your neighbourhood? then don’t buy them… is stupid argument as always… The argument: “you vote with your wallet” is fucked up, because it treats everybody as if they were equals in their rights their oportunities their education, their inclination for dogmas and their economics. And its not true. For example kids have not the same knowledge and experience than an adult. They are driven by more basic emotions. So they need some protection.

        And yes, loot boxes are gambling, your paying for an option of winning a random price, and if u don’t get an “epic” or “legendary” price it creates a sort of addiction very very similar to the adiction of a slot machine. This games are directly related to childrens and teens, they play them all the time (ESRB is a joke, nobody take it seriously) and it creates a realationship between culture, games, fun, enterteinment and gambling that these kids will grow with. Kids growing playing this games will be more inclinated gamble and to consume in a more impulsive way.

        • Col

          You just compared loot boxes to weapons and prostitution, and you say *my* argument is stupid? Wew lad.

          Anyway, still not gambling: you’re not at risk of losing anything.

          > it creates a sort of addiction very very similar to the adiction of a slot machine
          [Citation needed]

          > games are directly related to childrens and teens, they play them all the time
          So shitty parents mean taking things away from everybody? Yeah, nah.

          > Kids growing playing this games will be more inclinated gamble and to consume in a more impulsive way in their adult life
          [Citation very much needed]

          • samplerico

            I have never compared weapons, drugs or prostitution to loot boxes. I am for the fact, comparing your argument (not loot boxes) with other tipical arguments and showing you why it doesn’t work. If u don’t want your kid to be killed by a psycho with a gun, to consume drugs, or your not feeling right about sex slave traffic, your not geting yourself in better position about this issues by taking an individualist point of view.

            Now, you can or not see loot boxes as gambling and you can have your reasoning. But that doesn’t change my above argument. When you have a social issue, you will never ever solve it by taking an individualist point of view. Even without being the same, loot boxes works the same way. By looking at everything as an isolated problem your weaken individuals against corporations, some of which have enough power and the means to introduce any kind of business model into the society if ther is no law preventing it. Thats exactly why we have laws.

            There you go:








            I have plenty more. But i have too, lots of game forum users talking about their own personal experience about being addict of loot boxes and similar microtransactions models:







            But all this links are pretty much unnecesary. You only need to ask yourself two simple logical questions:

            Wouldn’t big corporations like Warner Bross, Activision or EA, stop adding these kind of very unpopular models into their games if they weren’t making money instead of increasing them?

            If the answer is yes, then it inherently means they are actually making money, so you can come to the conclusion that their business model based on loot boxes and microtransactions works very well. If, in adition, we agree these kind of models are very unpopular among the community we can ask ourselfs another question.

            If these models are making money for the companys and they are inherently working very well, but simultaneously are very unpopular; Can’t we conclude that marketing, psychology and addiction are key factors in the succeed of these models?

            I would like to live in a society where the sentence: “If u don’t want something in society just don’t buy it” worked, but its not the case. I would prefer to live with the least possible laws, rules and regulations. But, sadly, we can’t. So i prefer to keep this big greedy corporations at bay. Its not complicated :D.

            • Col

              None of your first bunch of links make a case for lootboxes being gambling – there’s lots of prevarication though: they’re *like* slot machines, *like* poker, they activate the same reward systems in the brain, they’re Skinner boxes… Skinner boxes? No shit, sherlock, video games is Skinner boxes all the way down! Push button to make flashy lights and loud noise, push button again to make bigger flashy lights and louder noise, repeat. It’s still not *actually* gambling though. You still aren’t going to lose your money, you just might not get exactly what you want, which is a very different thing and basically the same risk you take when you use Tinder.

              As for the second list of links, some numpties with poor purchasing choices and worse impulse control are not an argument for taking something off the market – if they were you wouldn’t be able to buy french fries for love nor money.

              I think your framing of those simple logical questions is somewhat begging the question. You say these practices – lootboxes, microtransactions and so on – are unpopular, and in the same breath point out that they are making money for the publishers. Would it not be just as reasonable to conclude that the majority are just fine with them, and are perfectly happy to throw their money away on hats, or orcs, or whatever, and the only reason you think they’re unpopular is because it’s only the people who don’t like them who give enough of a damn to talk about it?

              And finally, I think the whole argument in its current form is disingenuous, arising as it does from the furore over lootboxes in Shadow of War and how the government should seek to protect The Children from being targeted in such a way – conveniently forgetting that Shadow of War was rated PEGI 18 and ESRB M, so if the poor little mites are playing the game and being tempted by the terrors of shiny lootboxes it’s the deadbeat parents who should be punished, not the rest of us who can choose if and when we want to waste our money on frivolous shite.

              • samplerico

                So you ask me for quotation, i give it you plenty, but obviously they are actually not making a valid point for you. So i don’t know. The psychology behind loot boxes is virtually the same as the ones behind slot machines, you can see it with your own eyes, the analogy is there and pretty obvious. You choose not to see a valid point in that. Ok, its your choice. But then you are living off a believe system. So whats the point in discusing anything? thers no point because any argument i can give you, you will always deny it everytime. But then you also deny personal user experiences with loot boxes because you classify them as poor purchasing choices and impuslive behaviour, well my friend, thats related to adiction. From the first sentence from the Wikipedia:

                “Addiction is a brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli. despite adverse consequences”

                But i guess you would classify any drug addict just as a poor purchase choice maker and impulsive, or maybe you discovered now the meaning of addiction.

                As for your ESRB and PEGI statement, i already said in my older post that, those are in fact a joke. Kids plays 18+ rated games all the time, ther is nothing preventing that, specially in 2017, where you can download any game anywhere. And you know why nobody cares about those ratings? because they are ridiculous in the oversaturated society of 2017.
                Violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language, these are categorys of those rating orgs. Hell watch any USA presidential press conference and you already have your daily dose fo that, you don’t need any videogame, PEGI and ESRB its all about hypocritical puritan society evolution. But thats not even the problem. Shadow of War is not rated 17+ because of gamble, but for other reasons.


                But thats not the discusion here. Lets back to the topic.

                Its funny you use the french fries example. Ther is actually a very restrictive and severe laws for the food industry. Or you would be eating all this shit and more:


                Thanks laws!

                And again you are using the typical neo-liberal argument about individual freedom of choice specailly used to PR campaign for private interests. So i guess you are fine with any company using any kind of business model or practice to achieve their goals? It shouldn’t matter to you because well, if u don’t want that then you just have to stop buying it, right? so i guess youre fine with toxic cheap chemicals in food, you are fine with Monsanto business model, with any company using slave childrens, missleading advertising, or not having any law to protect animals from abuse for example. It doesn’t matter, right? we are free to do whatever we want…

                No my friend, freedom has limits, and the more illiterate and stupid people is, the more laws and rules you need to keep order. Sadly enough we have already a very stupid society where companys have lots of privileges and use them to educate us in being obedient and good consumers through marketing campaign and agresive advertising, manipulative techniques, media control etc. I would like to have a super total free society, but it just doesn’t work, childrens and individuals need protection. I agree with you in the idea of freedom, but we would need a more highly educated people in a more equitative society. Until then, ban is a quick and usefull tool.

                But hey, if u don’t see loot boxes comparable to gambling, then this discusion make no sense, you believe in something and i believe in the oposite. You deny a well thought well writen analogys to disprove my point so i can’t further make any argument. Lets just walk our way, and have a nice day.