German lottery operator WestLotto calls for loot box regulations


The North-Rhine Westphalia’s state lottery suggests Germany needs similar regulations to those being introduced in the UK.

UK.- Axel Weber, head of responsible gambling at North-Rhine Westphalia’s state lottery operator WestLotto, is calling for Germany to look at introducing guidelines for the use of loot boxes in video games. He says discussion is needed among politicians, scientists and industry stakeholders.

Weber noted the loot box guidelines recently drawn up by the UK industry body Ukie, suggesting Germany needed similar measures. UK Interactive Entertainment published guidelines recommending that loot boxes be age-restricted to over 18s.

Ukie also recommended that loot boxes be made completely unavailable to minors unless enabled by a parent or guardian. Its 11 voluntary guidelines include the implementation of technological controls to prevent access by under 18s without parental consent. It also proposes actions be taken to raise awareness of the controls.

Meanwhile, the use of loot boxes in a game must be made clear before purchase or download to allow players to be fully informed. Ukie also proposes the creation of an expert panel on age assurance in the video games industry and a commitment to lenient refund policies on loot boxes purchased without the knowledge of a parent or guardian.

Weber suggested that Germany “should take this initiative from Great Britain as an opportunity to continue promoting the protection of minors and clear rules”. He stressed that WestLotto was “not demanding a complete ban on loot boxes”.

However, he said: “Our social task must be to protect children and young people from gambling-like elements in games and to prevent them from developing problematic gaming behaviour as early as adolescence.”

He called for more research into gambling-like features in video games. At the start of this year, the German video game age-rating body Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle began to consider the presence of loot boxes when deciding the age rating for games. However, there is no hard-and-fast rule on age-restricting loot boxes.

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