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UK Gambling Commission Releases Official Statement Explaining Its Stance on Loot Boxes

In the midst of the debate surrounding loot boxes and microtransactions in video games, and conflicting statements from various authorities around the world, the UK Gambling commission has released an official statement explaining its stance on the issue.

In a blog post, Executive Director Tim Miller talked about the extent of the commission’s legal powers, and outlined what it can do in cases where the line between video gaming and gambling seems blurred.

Here are some excerpts from Miller’s statement:

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. 

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.

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.  

It’s understandable that authorities in different countries will take different positions on the issue. It remains to be seen how these varying stances will impact the video games industry going forward.

[Source: UK Gambling Commission]