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Loot Boxes Are Like Gambling, According To An English Government Official

Loot boxes have been controversial for years, but now England's children's commissioner plans to do something about them. A report published by commissioner Anne Longfield's office called "Gaming the System" has essentially equated loot boxes to gambling, suggesting that loot boxes should be governed under the UK's Gambling Act. 


The interviews contained in the report detailed the gaming habits of children between the ages of 10 to 16. And it revealed that much of what these young gamers had to say about loot boxes sounded a whole lot like the language used to discuss gambling.

But wait, can't kids just avoid the loot boxes altogether? While it is entirely possible to forego spending more money on the games, the report showed that children often feel pressured to participate. They were even bullied for using default skins in games. Longfield explained that games can create an environment that make kids want to keep up with their friends, and thus feel compelled to spend cash due to this pressure.

"Children have told us they worry they are gambling when they buy loot boxes, and it's clear some children are spending hundreds of pounds chasing their losses," Longfield said. "I want the Government to classify loot boxes in games like FIFA as a form of gambling. A maximum daily spend limit for children would also be reassuring for parents and children themselves."


The report recommends stricter rules regarding loot boxes, especially in games marketed toward children. The thinking is, kids aren't allowed to gamble in real life; why should they be allowed to in a game? One good starting point, the report suggests, is allowing players to track their play time and spending. Another suggestion is that physical packaging for games like FIFA come with the warning that they contain in-game spending. 

This is just another official step toward loot box regulation, an idea that has continually been broached in the UK Parliament. Maybe the UK will make like Belgium and the Netherlands and declare them outright illegal. Should that happen, we'll let you know.