Gambling in Video Games May Be Debated in Parliament

Gambling in video games may soon become a matter for Parliamentary review after an official petition was submitted to the UK government’s website.

Video game gambling Overwatch.

New petition aims to bring more transparency to the growing trend of gambling in video games such as Overwatch. (Image: YouTube/Unit Lost Great British Gaming)

Started by Connor Rhys Deeley, the petition notes the recent trend among video game companies that gives players that chance to purchase add-ons.

However, instead of trading cash for a known item with a comparative in-game value, developers are using a mechanism known as loot boxes.

Set Fees but Mystery Wins

Much like a mystery box game, players buy the loot box with virtual credits (acquired by spending real cash) and receive a feature that will help them in some way.

For Deeley, however, the fact players receive a prize worth less than the purchase price the majority of the time and a larger prize less frequently is tantamount to gambling.

Citing a recent law passed by the Chinese government which requires gaming companies to publish details of the odds and results for loot boxes, Deeley wants to see a similar measure in the UK. In addition to calls for more transparency, the petition states that there should be more protections in place for children.

For example, one of the most popular games to introduce loot boxes in recent months is Overwatch. A multiplayer online first-person shooter, Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch features cartoon-style characters and is aimed at teens as well as adults.

The Evolution of Online Gambling and Gaming

Under the UK Gambling Commission’s (UKGC) guidelines set out in 2005, operators aren’t required to meet a statutory minimum payout percentage. However, they must clearly display the amount a player can, in theory, expect to win (known as the return to player/RTP).

Video games have escaped this rule so far, but with gaming and online gambling becoming ever more entwined, the UKGC may have to address the issue.

Indeed, with social casino games blurring the lines between real and free play (betting is free but players can purchase extra chips), current gambling guidelines may have to be adapted.

At the time of writing, Deeley’s petition has received more than 8,000 digital signatures. If it can reach 10,000, the government is legally obliged to respond.

If the petition manages to obtain 100,000 or more signatures by April 4, 2018, the issue will be considered for debate in Parliament.

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