Washington state senator introduces bill to determine whether loot boxes are gambling

"If [parents] realised how predatory these game are then they wouldn't want them under their Christmas tree, they wouldn't want them going to their kids," says senator

Just as the loot box controversy waters seemed to be calming, a Washington state senator has introduced a bill into the Legislature aimed at defining whether or not the mechanic in games constitutes gambling.

While the Washington Gambling Commission is aware of loot boxes, it has yet form an official position. Kevin Ranker, a Democratic state senator for Orcas Island, is now asking Washington officials and game developers to help reach a conclusion.

"What the bill says is, 'Industry, state: sit down to figure out the best way to regulate this,'" Ranker told the News Tribune. "It is unacceptable to be targeting our children with predatory gambling masked in a game with dancing bunnies or something."

The bill highlights three major concerns: firstly whether games and apps containing loot box mechanics are considered gambling under Washington law; secondly whether these mechanics belong in games and apps; thirdly whether minors should have such ready access to games and apps that do feature loot boxes; and finally the "lack of disclosure and transparency with respect to the odds of receiving each type of virtual item."

A conclusion must be drawn upon no later than December 1, 2018. The Washington State Gambling Commission must provide written recommendations regarding how best to regulate the practice and, include options for the implementation of regulations restricting the sale of games containing loot box mechanics.

In the same way Apple recently changed its terms of service making loot box odds transparent in all games on the App Store, Ranker believes the odds for all such mechanics should be made public.

"If [parents] realised how predatory these game are then they wouldn't want them under their Christmas tree, they wouldn't want them going to their kids," he said.

As the latest and arguably the most significant case of a government body or official casting a gaze towards loot boxes, it highlights the gulf of opinion between politicians and the games industry. While the Belgian Gambling Commission and Hawaiian state representatives are approaching this issue with a great deal of concern - and seemingly ready to introduce legislation - the Entertainment Software Rating Board and publishers like EA continue to fervently deny that loot boxes are gambling.

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Latest comments (3)

Pandoras Loot box hath opened, and whilst all manner evils escaped
lying within, elpis remained

Thus the expectation of a good HOPE out of all this
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Ian Griffiths Product Owner, Hutch2 years ago
"If [parents] realised how predatory these game are then they wouldn't want them under their Christmas tree, they wouldn't want them going to their kids," he said.
Except they do have them, as LOL Babies, Pokemon Trading Cards, Magic the Gathering and so many more blindbox toys aimed directly at children.

I mean for goodness sake the entire notion of a Christmas present is a socially obligated loot box that we buy for each other whose contents are usually of questionable worth.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ian Griffiths on 25th January 2018 10:43pm

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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 2 years ago
Why is alcohol sold everywhere and other drugs criminalized?
Answer: context.

Paper trading cards have a far more favorable context than Ultimate Team or Hearthstone. Fariness does not play into it. This year has politicians scramble for bi-partisan goals with a narrative of politicians being the good guys that do things for the well-being of people. The feel-good paragraph in a thick book of legislative horror-shitshow chapters across all countries in the world.

Ian is right on Christmas though, go spread the gospel. The root of all evil is social obligation.
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