The loot box disaster that has imploded all over the gaming scene these last few months just got more complicated.
New Zealand’s Gambling Compliance office of its Department of Internal Affairs has stated its position on the matter.
In a letter to Gamasutra, the department has stated that loot boxes “do not meet the definition of gambling”. The department views that loot boxes do not meet the legal definition of gambling under their 2003 Gambling Act but they have been monitoring the recent situation closely.
New Zealand joins other countries in not wanting to address the issue while the matter is being looked at by other authorities around the globe. These statements also join the likes of the ESRB, who also say that loot boxes are not gambling.
The UK Gambling Commission however, has made some new information on the subject available, which suggests further action might be on the table. This is in contrast with the UK government making a very bizarre and non-committal statement in recent months.
New technology is the problem according to their report with free-to-play casino games, social media, or the mechanics within some video games being the main problem areas. Tim Miller, Gambling Commission Executive Director said:
“It is clear that many children’s experiences of gambling-style activities are coming from the playground, the games console or social media rather than the bookmaker, the casino or the gambling website. That’s why it is essential that we work across industries and with parents so that together we can protect children and encourage those that choose to gamble in adulthood to do so safely.”
In the past week, 12% (370,000) of children have taken part in some form of gambling activity. The video game sectors stats show that 11% have bet with in-game items and 45% are aware that it’s possible to bet with in-game items. The report also mentions the prevalence of advertising that either promotes games featuring these mechanics, or promotes the mechanics themselves.
Check out the infographic below:
One can only hope that these new statements on the issue further warn developers and publishers against utilizing these controversial mechanics in predatory ways. Because if a AAA title like Battlefront 2 can take a sales hit from them, how will other games fair?