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Loot box bill filed in Australia

Proposed legislation would require games with loot boxes to be rated R18+ and carry warnings for parents

Australian MP Andrew Wilkie today introduced his long-awaited loot box legislation.

The bill seeks to amend the Australian Classification Board rules to require that the Board give any game with loot boxes an R18+ classification (or to refuse classification entirely) in order to keep children from purchasing and playing games with loot boxes.

Additionally, it would require games with loot boxes to carry a warning for parents and guardians.

"By tempting young players with the potential-to-win game-changing items, encouraging risk-taking behaviour for a possible reward, delivering random prizes on an intermittent basis and encouraging them to keep spending money, it's clear that loot boxes give rise to many of the same emotions and experiences associated with poker machines and other traditional gambling activities," Wilkie said.

Wilkie had first signalled his intent to table such legislation last year.

Some of the independent MP for Clark's previous attempts to curb gambling – for example a bill banning social casinos – found little support among parties. His loot box bill at least has the support of MP Andrew Wallace from Liberal National Party of Queensland, who seconded the bill.

"We have our differences on many things, but the member for Clark has been an absolute strident champion in his desire to clean up the gambling industry — as have I," Wallace said. "We stand shoulder to shoulder in this place to put big tech and the big gambling companies on notice that he and I, and anyone who wants to join us, will fight shoulder to shoulder to protect Australians who have become vulnerable to gambling."

The Australian government has been pushed to act on loot boxes for years.

In 2018, a five-month inquiry into loot boxes by the Environment and Communications Reference Committee concluded they met all the psychological criteria for gambling but not the legal definition, and called for further research into the potential gambling-related harms of loot boxes.

In 2020, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs made loot box regulations one of its six recommendations in its "Protecting the Age of Innocence" report into age verification for online gambling and pornography.

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Brendan Sinclair

Managing Editor

Brendan joined GamesIndustry.biz in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot in the US.