Loot Boxes Blurring the Lines, But Not Gambling According to UK Gambling Commission

UKGC Tim Miller loot boxes.

UKGC Executive Director Tim Miller has reconfirmed that, at this stage, loot boxes don’t fall under its regulations. (Image: gamblingcommission.gov.uk)

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has reconfirmed its position on loot boxes following a recent statement from the Belgian Gambling Commission.

In a piece published by UKGC on November 24, the regulator confirmed that loot boxes in popular video games such as Stars Wars: Battlefront II don’t fall under its remit. On November 22, Belgium’s Minister of Justice Koen Geens said that he believed loot boxes should be banned.

Although an original report by local news outlet VTM suggested that the Minister was officially defining loot boxes as gambling, it seems that investigations are ongoing at this stage.

However, despite stopping short of an official classification of the controversial gaming feature, Geens did say that he would be pushing for a Europe-wide ban.

Belgian Minister Against Loot Boxes

In response to the news and pressure from the gaming community, the UKGC has published an overview of its stance. Written by Executive Director Tim Miller, the one-page explanation reiterates the commission’s 2016 verdict that the in-game features don’t have any real-world value and, therefore, aren’t gambling.

In practical terms, the UKGC can only impose regulations on a company offering services and features that can used or traded outside of the game in question. For example, when a player purchases casino credits, uses them to play slots and then withdraws their winnings to spend in the real world, this comes under the UKGC’s regulations.

In contrast, when a gamer purchases in-game credits to buy a loot box, the prize they receive can’t be traded or used outside the game. Even though the value of a prize is determined at random and not always equal to the amount spent, this isn’t gambling in traditional sense according to the UKGC.

Miller Acknowledges Blurred Lines

Despite its current position, Miller did say that he is aware of concerns from parents and understands that the line between video games and gambling is being blurred.

“Where it [the game] does meet the definition of gambling it is our job to ensure that children are protected and we have lots of rules in place, like age verification requirements, to do that,” wrote Miller.

While the UKGC is content with its current policy, there’s no doubt new technology and innovations are reshaping all forms of entertainment. With greater cohesion between gambling and gaming likely in the coming years, the UKGC may be forced to act accordingly and revisit its current policy.

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