EPIC calls for ban on loot boxes for under 18s

An independent inquiry will deliver a report in the summer.
An independent inquiry will deliver a report in the summer.

EPIC Risk Management wants regulation for the video game devices.

UK.- The gambling harm prevention consultancy EPIC Risk Management has called for regulations to be introduced for loot boxes. The devices have often been criticised for introducing gambling to video games, but regulators have been unsure of how to respond, although Belgium and the Netherlands have already introduced regulations.

EPIC says the sale of loot boxes to under 18s should be banned and that parents and guardians need education to give them a better understanding of the devices.

It said research into schoolchildren’s betting behaviour in the UK had found that 30 per cent of 1,793 children from 31 schools had purchased loot boxes or video game skins and 19 per cent had gambled in the past 12 months. Some 88 per cent of those described loot boxes or gaming skins as part of their gambling. 

EPIC Risk Management’s gaming and eSports consultant Jonathan Peniket addressed the House of Lords, where a gambling committee had already proposed a ban in 2020. He said: “The survey results are extremely concerning; they suggest once again that the true scale of the issue of loot box gambling is terrifying.”

Some UK ministers have taken the view that games developers should self-regulate to prevent the sale of loot boxes to minors, whilst those such as Lord Foster of Bath are in favour of a ban.

Peniket said: “It is disappointing that we are still yet to hear any response to the government’s call for evidence on the issue which closed some 16 months ago now. Loot boxes continue to create awful situations in people’s lives and their regulation in the UK, as seen in other European countries, is critical.”

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has said that it would consider introducing new legislation to regulate loot box rewards as part of its review of the 2005 Gambling Act. It received more than 30,000 responses to its call for evidence on how loot boxes should be regulated.

Meanwhile in Spain, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs has said it intends to open a dialogue with the aim of regulating loot boxes, play-to-earn (P2E) games and crypto games. It said it was carrying out “very exhaustive monitoring of this entire series of phenomena” but did not go into more detail. However, minister Albero Garzón is known to have been working on the regulation of loot boxes for months, following a consultation last year.

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