UK's House of Lords says loot boxes should face gambling regulation

UK's House of Lords says loot boxes should face gambling regulation

The UK's House of Lords has said that video game loot boxes should be subject to gambling laws.

In a report from the second chamber's Gambling Committee of country's, it's recommended that the government bring the business under the "remit of gambling legislation and regulation."

Speaking to the BBC, the committee's chair, Lord Grade, said that loot boxes are teaching kids to gamble and that the Gambling Act 2005 was too far behind on what's "actually happening in the market."

"It is crucial that any future developments in gambling, video gaming or other products that may contain gambling-like elements, which would not currently fall within the definition of gambling, should be brought within the remit of the Gambling Act as they appear. It is too late to regulate a product as gambling, when it has already caused harm to children and young people. Neither the Government nor the Gambling Commission can afford to wait years before bringing new ‘gambling-like’ products within the remit of the Act," the committee wrote in its report.

"The recommendation above will deal with the immediate issue of loot boxes, but gambling operators or gaming companies may develop new products which blur the distinction between video gaming and gambling. If these products cannot be brought within the legislative definition of a ‘game of chance’, they will not be regulated as gambling. Children and young people should be protected from all gambling and gambling-like products, not merely those that can be defined as a ‘game of chance’. To ensure that all future gambling-like products are regulated as gambling, Ministers must have a power analogous to section 6(6) of the Act to specify that any activity which has the characteristics of gambling, even if not similar to a game of chance, should be brought within the purview of the Act."

The CEO of UK video games trade body Dr Jo Twist OBE added: “The majority of people in the UK play video games in one form or another, so we take these concerns seriously. We’ve worked hard to increase the use of family controls on consoles which can turn off or limit spending and we will be working closely with the DCMS during its review of the Gambling Act later this year."

This comes in the wake of the UK's Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) 2019 select committee into Immersive and Addictive Technologies, which culminated in a report saying that loot boxes should be brought under gambling legislation. DCMS is currently calling for evidence that the business model should be classified as such.

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.