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Labour MP asks whether loot boxes can be legally considered gambling

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

Ove the last several months, a debate has been raging over loot boxes. Not over whether the odds were fair, but whether the mechanics were manipulative enough to be considered gambling. The stakes of the outcome of this debate are pretty high, as companies make millions off of loot box systems in games like Overwatch and Middle-Earth: Shadow of War.

And while the ESRB has ruled that they personally don’t consider the mechanic gambling, they acknowledge that they aren’t the true auhtority on the issue.

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.

According to NeoGaf user Audioboxer who met with Zeichner two weeks ago, this is the first time this issue has been raised in British parliament. 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 considered gambling by law they do copy many traits to make them as addictive and can lead to real money being lost/earned.

That petition has now reached more than 10,000 signatures but needs to reach 100,000 signatures to have the question raised and debated in Parliament. While unlikely to be the last time this debate rears its head, it will be interesting to see what course the issue takes next. Keep an eye on this one folks.

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