Research shows that video game loot boxes are related to problem gambling
Loot boxes, a video game feature that nearly 40% kids use, has clear links to problematic gambling, according to a study that has revived, calls for regulation as betting-related products.
The researchers analyzed 13 behavior studies of players who spend on loot boxes, which allow players to spend money on random in-game rewards that can help players progress or improve the appearance of a character without knowing what they will get.
All studies except one have found a clear correlation between the use of loot boxes and problem gambling behavior as part of a commonly used Gambling Problem Severity Index (PGSI) measure.
They were "structurally and psychologically similar" to gambling, the report said, but are used by nearly half of the children who play video games.
About 5% According to the report, loot box users generate half of the £ 700 million videogame companies earn from them each year, and about a third of that group are problem gamblers.
Despite growing concerns about their characteristics and growing popularity, loot boxes remain unregulated in the UK, while countries like Belgium have recognized them as gambling related products.
Conservative MP Richard Holden said they represented a "loophole" in the law.
"They're regulated in the same way as soccer stickers when I was a kid, and it's clear that these products moved faster than the laws governing them," he said. "Real regulatory action is needed as soon as possible."
GambleAware, a leading gambling charity that commissioned the report, also backed the tightening of the rules.
"[...] We are increasingly concerned that gambling is now part of the daily life of children and young people," said CEO Zoë Osmond.
“GambleAware funded this study to highlight concerns surrounding loot boxes and problem gambling ahead of the upcoming gambling bill review.
“Now, politicians should analyze this research, as well as the evidence of other organizations, and decide what laws and regulatory changes are needed to address these issues. "
The government said it would consider classifying loot boxes as gambling as part of an ongoing sector review. The consultation period for ministers and officials overseeing the review ended this week.
Researchers at the universities of Plymouth and Wolverhampton who wrote the report called for clear labeling and age ratings for loot boxes, as well as disclosure of courses, tools to voluntarily contain spending and prices in real currency.
A spokesman for Ukie, an organization dealing in video games, said: “The UK gaming industry has already taken action to address concerns over loot boxes.
“Probability Disclosure has already been rolled out to major gaming platforms; a new paid random item descriptor has been added to the PEGI age rating system in 2020 to inform players of their presence; settings and tools on all major gaming devices - and many leading games - are already allowing players to manage, limit or disable their spending. ”