Why Authorities Want to Crack Down on Australia’s Gambling on Loot Boxes
There are many countries that have expressed their concerns about loot boxes and whether or not they constitute gambling through a lottery-type odds system. The Australian Parliament recently joined the debate and began to discuss whether or not to ban loot boxes in video games that are marketed to children.
Loot boxes are virtual treasure boxes that contain items, such as weapons, extra money or extra lives, for players who play video games. Players like the loot boxes because they make the game more enjoyable. The loot boxes are sometimes found or earned as a reward for gameplay. But, there are other times when the loot boxes are paid for using in-game currency. And, a player must purchase this currency. In some games, players can purchase additional chances at the loot boxes or additional boxes at a faster rate. In addition, companies have also made some money in trading loot box items.
The Problem with Loot Boxes
Many researchers who have looked into games of chance and lottery winnings have said that the purchasing of loot boxes amounts to gambling. However, the Australian government has not decided whether or not it considers loot boxes as a form of gambling. To meet the standards for the Australian definition of gaming, the “gambling service” must have a game in which the game is played to win money or another valuable prize. It also must have an element of chance, and the player must agree to make some form of payment to play the game. In Australia, a gambling service must have all three of these elements to be considered a gaming device. Some critics have said the games that include loot boxes where players can pay to get more chances at a box should be considered gambling. However, the loot boxes that are in the games and are then exchanged for money on a third-party website can’t be considered gambling.
The Reactions of Other Countries
As the Australian government debates the issue of loot boxes, other countries are having the same debate as well. The Chinese Ministry of Culture, which supervises entertainment in the country, said that it was placing a ban on in-game purchases in any online game or video game that would require people to pay cash or virtual currency in order to purchase the items. Loot boxes can still be won in the game when no money is required.
Belgium and the Netherlands have also banned the use of loot boxes. In their opinion, the purchase of loot boxes using real money is gambling, especially when the player has no guarantee that he or she will get the loot box. Both countries agreed that loot boxes won as part of a game where no money changes hands is acceptable.
The United States has introduced legislative bills to crack down on loot boxes because the government has argued that the nature of loot boxes means they are not acceptable for children. However, the United Kingdom has declared that loot boxes are not gaming because they cannot be purchased with money. And, if no monetary risk is involved, the game can’t be considered gambling. New Zealand also stated that loot boxes do not constitute gambling.
As the Australian government debates the merits of the loot boxes, critics of the loot boxes contend that as long as the boxes are allowed in games where children are allowed to purchase games of chance during play, it is gambling. Game developers can resolve the problem by eliminating the in-game purchases for children.
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