In the United Kingdom and the contentious government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson reportedly has no plans to suggest a ban on the use of ‘loot boxes’ in video games as part of its upcoming ‘white paper’ review into the nation’s iGaming scene.
According to a Sunday report from The Guardian newspaper, the controversial leader looks likely to stay in his current post until September despite last week stepping down as leader of the governing Conservative political party. In the interim while his colleagues select a suitable successor and the source explained that the ‘white paper’ review could be published and potentially lead to legislative alterations to the guiding Gambling Act of 2005.
Although this long-running exercise could recommend the imposition of maximum online single stake limits and increased affordability checks alongside a complete ban on the use of credit cards, the use of ‘loot boxes’ is to reportedly escape any mention. This purportedly comes despite a government consultation involving 15 peer-reviewed studies finding evidence of a ‘stable and consistent’ association between the contentious attractions and problem gambling.
The Guardian reported that ‘loot boxes’ are a popular feature in video games such as Call of Duty and the FIFA football series that often allow aficionados to enhance their experience via the purchase of additional weapons, characters and costumes. However, the often-random nature of what is actually contained within these digital buys has purportedly drawn criticism from those worried that players are simply being conned into spending money until they get their preferred result.
Although Belgium banned the use of ‘loot boxes’ in 2018, the Johnson government reportedly believes that the United Kingdom should not follow suit so as to avoid imposing ‘unintended consequences’ on an industry annually thought to be worth approximately $8 billion. Nadine Dorries (pictured) serves as the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and she purportedly asserted that the sector should instead enact a series of ‘industry-led’ protections such as a crack-down on third-party sites that allow players to exchange their rewards for real money.
Dorries reportedly told the newspaper…
“For example, legislation to introduce an outright ban on children purchasing loot boxes could have the unintended effect of more children using adult accounts and thus having more limited parental oversight of their play and spending. Our view is that it would be premature to take legislative action without first pursuing enhanced industry-led measures to deliver protections for children and young people and all players.”
Following the publication of the ‘white paper’ review and the newspaper reported that government ministers are expected to begin defining these increased curbs on ‘loot boxes’ following working group talks with the United Kingdom’s video games industry. This process could purportedly start publishing updates by March of next year although the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) proclaimed that it would ‘not hesitate to consider legislative options’ should it decide that these are necessary ‘to protect children, young people and adults.’