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Loot box petition prompts response from UK government

UPDATE: Video Standards Council is working with PEGI "to determine whether any changes to the PEGI criteria need to be made"

Update: The UK government has announced that it the Video Standards Council (VSC) is working with ratings board PEGI to decide whether any legal changes need to be made regarding loot boxes.

In an official statement released as a follow-up to an earlier response from Tracey Crouch MP, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: "The PEGI criteria currently make provision for games depicting simulations of traditional gambling, and such games would generally attract a minimum PEGI rating of 12.

"The VSC Rating Board is discussing these issues with the PEGI Council and its Experts Group to determine whether any changes to the PEGI criteria need to be made."

Also highlighted in the statement was the government's continued monitoring of children's participation in gambling. The Gambling Commission is compiling a report on the issue using data gathered through complaints, academic research, and the annual Young People and Gambling Survey. The 2017 iteration of the survey has questions relating to esports and video gaming.

Original Story (17th October 2017): An online petition calling for loot boxes to be regulated gambling law has received a response from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

The online petition petition, which collected over 12,000 signatures, prompted the government to add its response to that of UKIE, PEGI, and the ESRB, each of which concluded that loot boxes do not constitute gambling.

Unsurprisingly, the UK government came to the same conclusion, but noted that it recognises the risks that come from the "increasing convergence between gambling and computer games", and will keep the matter under review.

Tracey Crouch MP issued a formal response on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

"Where items obtained in a computer game can be traded or exchanged outside the game platform they acquire a monetary value, and where facilities for gambling with such items are offered to consumers located in Britain a Gambling Commission licence is required. If no licence is held, the Commission uses a wide range of regulatory powers to take action," she said.

"Protecting children and vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited by gambling is one of the core objectives of the regulation of gambling in Great Britain and a priority for the government.

"The Gambling Commission has a range of regulatory powers to take action where illegal gambling is taking place. Earlier this year the Gambling Commission successfully prosecuted the operators of a website providing illegal gambling facilities for in-game items which was accessible to children - the first regulator in the world to bring such an action."

The Gambling Commission released a report earlier this year addressing the issue of in-game gambling, digital currencies, and loot boxes.

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Latest comments (3)

Jim Horth Director of Services, Rare Ltd.A month ago
Article links to the gambling commission response from March. Parliamentary response is here:
https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2017-10-06/106043/
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Brian Lewis Operations Manager, PlayNextA month ago
The answer is mostly not surprising... but it does make a key statement, that leads to a very interesting issue:

"Where items obtained in a computer game can be traded or exchanged outside the game platform they acquire a monetary value"

This would lead to the conclusion that CSGO Items have a recognized monetary value, and that case openings for these items might be considered gambling. If someone really wants to push this issue, this is where it might be a problem.
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Rogier Voet IT Consultant 18 days ago
I have been reading through a lot of articles around this issue and I'm confused. What is the primary rule determining if a lootbox-like item or mechanic is Gambling.

The game creators and publishers always stated: it's not gambling because you always get something, but maybe not the item you were hoping for.

In that case if I come up with a new product called Hamburger Fortune Scratch cards with a circulation of 2 million cards, with one giving a price of 100.000 euro and the rest contains a 50% discount for a Hamburger, that wouldn't be considered gambling.

But the statement "Where items obtained in a computer game can be traded or exchanged outside the game platform they acquire a monetary value" does not add up.

Example: every CCG: like Pokemon, Magic the Gathering would or should be considered gambling. Booster Packs are analog Loot Boxes and yes you can sell Pokemon Cards easily for real money.

Do I miss something?
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