The UK Gambling Commission restates that loot boxes are not gambling

20
Found 25th Nov 2017
In recent weeks there’s been much interest in loot boxes within video games. Loot boxes provide players with the opportunity to pay to open a box and acquire an unknown quantity and quality of in-game items for use within the game. Here Tim Miller, Gambling Commission Executive Director, explains our stance on this matter.

In early 2016 we identified loot boxes as a potential risk to children and young people as part of a wider review on our concerns around video games and gambling themes, resulting in publication of a position paper.

Our starting point in deciding our position with any product is to look closely at whether or not it falls under UK gambling law. The definition of what is legally classed as gambling is set by Parliament rather than by us. Our role is to apply that definition to activities that we see and any changes to that definition need to be made by Parliament.

The law sets a line between what is and is not gambling. As the regulator we patrol that line and where an activity crosses it and presents a risk to people, especially children, we have and will take robust action. Earlier this year we successfully brought the first criminal prosecution in this area in relation to Futgalaxy - a website for providing skins gambling to children (skins gambling is explained within the position paper).

A key factor in deciding if that line has been crossed is whether in-game items acquired ‘via a game of chance’ can be considered money or money’s worth. In practical terms this means that where in-game items obtained via loot boxes are confined for use within the game and cannot be cashed out it is unlikely to be caught as a licensable gambling activity. In those cases our legal powers would not allow us to step in.

However, many parents are not interested in whether an activity meets a legal definition of ‘gambling’. Their main concern is whether there is a product out there that could present a risk to their children. We are concerned with the growth in examples where the line between video gaming and gambling is becoming increasingly blurred. Where it does meet the definition of gambling it is our job to ensure that children are protected and we have lots of rules in place, like age verification requirements, to do that.

Where a product does not meet that test to be classed as gambling but could potentially cause harm to children, parents will undoubtedly expect proper protections to be put in place by those that create, sell and regulate those products. We have a long track record in keeping children safe and we are keen to share our experiences and expertise with others that have a similar responsibility. Whether gambling or not, we all have a responsibility to keep children and young people safe.

gamblingcommission.gov.uk/new…spx
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I've never bought any in any game, but surely if you pay for something and you don't know what you're going to get it's a gamble.
marcb461721 m ago

It's no different to buying sealed packets of cards or stickers. Like …It's no different to buying sealed packets of cards or stickers. Like match attax etc.



Yes it is because you get a physical product that you can then trade with others, if you get a duplicate. For example, Pokemon cards are labelled as a “Trading Card Game”. With these lootboxes, you have to keep piling money into it to get the outcome you desire. That’s gambling.

Can’t believe our country’s government and commissions are so inept at seeing this.
"In practical terms this means that where in-game items obtained via loot boxes are confined for use within the game and cannot be cashed out it is unlikely to be caught as a licensable gambling activity".

AKA ''It's not gambling because you can't win".
20 Comments
I've never bought any in any game, but surely if you pay for something and you don't know what you're going to get it's a gamble.
Total BS imho. If companies made fruit machines that took £1 and paid back at least 10p that also wouldn't be 'gambling', at least according to their logic. Loot boxes = Ganja.
"In practical terms this means that where in-game items obtained via loot boxes are confined for use within the game and cannot be cashed out it is unlikely to be caught as a licensable gambling activity".

AKA ''It's not gambling because you can't win".
Kinder eggs also are a form of gambling for childers......
Deciding to go outside without a coat when it's forecast to rain is gambling.

Children need protecting from this horrendous game of chance that they're taking with their life's.
Just show the strength of lobbying and the power of of these companies.
They've resisted having this classed as gambling for years now.
And the reason, if loot boxes ARE classed as gamboling they would be forced to publish the odds. As most, if not all, of anything worth getting is less than 1% people would realize what a total con they are.
I guess it's not too different to Hook A Duck down the local fayre!

Can see how kids could get easily sucked into this though and don't really agree with it unless your using in game credits to buy them. Real money should be a big no for under 18s though.
It's no different to buying sealed packets of cards or stickers. Like match attax etc.
marcb461721 m ago

It's no different to buying sealed packets of cards or stickers. Like …It's no different to buying sealed packets of cards or stickers. Like match attax etc.



Yes it is because you get a physical product that you can then trade with others, if you get a duplicate. For example, Pokemon cards are labelled as a “Trading Card Game”. With these lootboxes, you have to keep piling money into it to get the outcome you desire. That’s gambling.

Can’t believe our country’s government and commissions are so inept at seeing this.
Games should at least have warnings on them that they use loot boxes, so people can avoid them easily if they want.

That would somewhat skirt the issue of whether it was gambling or not.
Basically.
Because what you can win has no value and you can never win big it’s not gambling.

Anyone can see that loot boxes are gambling...

you layout cash and have a small chance of winning something...

its ok though it’s exactly the same as panini stickers honest.
Darzen10 h, 37 m ago

I've never bought any in any game, but surely if you pay for something and …I've never bought any in any game, but surely if you pay for something and you don't know what you're going to get it's a gamble.



no that's called pre-ordering

badum tish
MSK.1 h, 56 m ago

Games should at least have warnings on them that they use loot boxes, so …Games should at least have warnings on them that they use loot boxes, so people can avoid them easily if they want.That would somewhat skirt the issue of whether it was gambling or not.



Problem is, you have publishers like Activision adding them in after they’ve been released.

They also need to release odds and state whether said systems are tied to progression too I think.
Biddy24 m ago

Problem is, you have publishers like Activision adding them in after …Problem is, you have publishers like Activision adding them in after they’ve been released. They also need to release odds and state whether said systems are tied to progression too I think.


Perhaps adding them later on shouldn't be allowed at all. It significantly alters the functioning of the product you have bought too.
Biddy21 h, 7 m ago

Problem is, you have publishers like Activision adding them in after …Problem is, you have publishers like Activision adding them in after they’ve been released. They also need to release odds and state whether said systems are tied to progression too I think.



For me this isn’t the big one - we don’t know odds and because it isn’t “gambling” it isn’t regaulated so they can make stuff pay out as little as they like.
Biddy25 h, 56 m ago

Yes it is because you get a physical product that you can then trade with …Yes it is because you get a physical product that you can then trade with others, if you get a duplicate. For example, Pokemon cards are labelled as a “Trading Card Game”. With these lootboxes, you have to keep piling money into it to get the outcome you desire. That’s gambling. Can’t believe our country’s government and commissions are so inept at seeing this.

You are still buying a sealed packet. You don't know what is in there. So you are gambling on the card you want being in that packet.
marcb461725 m ago

You are still buying a sealed packet. You don't know what is in there. So …You are still buying a sealed packet. You don't know what is in there. So you are gambling on the card you want being in that packet.



Yes, but you aren’t enticed to buy another packet to get the card you want. You can trade any card with others to get it.

Whereas, in Battlefront 2 for example, they have purposely made the game very grindy to put you off wanting to just play the game normally, to get you to buy the lootcrates which may or may not have the card you want. Then, as you cannot trade, you continue to pile money into it. It’s either waste your life for 4000+ hours or pay money. Just like you can either work to earn a lot of money or go to a casino and hope for the best.

Pokemon cards or other collectables don’t have that impact on people. Kids also have to get their parents to buy those sort of things so it can be regulated by the parents. On videogames, they just need a wallet top up and can go nuts. Sure, parents shouldn’t be just letting their kids do as they please you could argue, but the buck falls with these games publishers for putting these systems in games. They actually consulted psychologists to help make them as addictive as possible. They don’t deserve any defense really. They’ve acted very scummy.
Biddy21 h, 35 m ago

Yes, but you aren’t enticed to buy another packet to get the card you w …Yes, but you aren’t enticed to buy another packet to get the card you want. You can trade any card with others to get it. Whereas, in Battlefront 2 for example, they have purposely made the game very grindy to put you off wanting to just play the game normally, to get you to buy the lootcrates which may or may not have the card you want. Then, as you cannot trade, you continue to pile money into it. It’s either waste your life for 4000+ hours or pay money. Just like you can either work to earn a lot of money or go to a casino and hope for the best. Pokemon cards or other collectables don’t have that impact on people. Kids also have to get their parents to buy those sort of things so it can be regulated by the parents. On videogames, they just need a wallet top up and can go nuts. Sure, parents shouldn’t be just letting their kids do as they please you could argue, but the buck falls with these games publishers for putting these systems in games. They actually consulted psychologists to help make them as addictive as possible. They don’t deserve any defense really. They’ve acted very scummy.


Excellent point and very well put.
marcb46172 h, 17 m ago

You are still buying a sealed packet. You don't know what is in there. So …You are still buying a sealed packet. You don't know what is in there. So you are gambling on the card you want being in that packet.


If you go on the pull in Thailand. Is that gambling too, no idea what’s in the packet there either.
When you fart but risk following through it's a gamble.
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