The local gambling regulator UKGC reiterated before a committee that loot boxes are not considered gambling.
Loot boxes have been in the spotlight for quite some time now, as regulators all over the world have raised questions about their classification and whether they can be considered gambling or not. Speaking at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport select committee, Gambling Commission Chief Executive Neil McCarthur said that there were concerns around them, but that they’re not considered gambling.
UKGC’s McCarthur said that there were concerns around children playing video games in which there were elements of expenditure and chance, such as loot boxes. However, current legislation in the UK does not classify them as gambling.
“There are other examples of things that look and feel like gambling that legislation tells you are not – [such as] some prize competitions but because they have free play or free entry they are not gambling… but they are a lot like a lottery,” he said.
UKGC programmer director Brad Enright said that they recently talked to the video game industry. The UKGC told them that “it’s not enough to say we don’t want this happening’.
EA executive vowed for loot boxes in a Parliament hearing
Last month, the same committee held a hearing over the use of loot boxes in video games. An Electronic Arts representative defended the use of loot boxes, though he mentioned that they’re similar to “Kinder Eggs”.
Kerry Hopkins, Vice President of Legal and Government Affairs of Electronic Arts (EA), participated at the hearing by giving evidence to the committee over its investigation on Immersive and Addictive Technologies. EA’s UK County Manager Shaun Campbell and Epic’s Director of Marketing Matthew Weissinger were also part of the hearing.
When questioned if loot boxes were ethical, Hopkins said that they do not call them loot boxes at EA. “We look at them as surprise mechanics,” she said. “People enjoy surprises… it’s been a part of toys for years, whether it is Kinder Eggs or Hatchimals or LOL Surprise!,” she said. “We do think the way we’ve implemented these kinds of mechanics is quite ethical and quite fun. They aren’t gambling and we disagree that there’s evidence that shows they lead to gambling.”