The debate over is loot box gambling is slowing gaining momentum and has currently become a hot topic in the gaming community.
Some gamers say it is gambling because players use real money to get virtual currency and then use to earn in-game items which are often worth less than what they paid for and hence it’s gambling and other gamers say it is not gambling cause you can never cash out the virtual items and hence just a product.
An ESRB representative has said that they don’t see loot boxes as gambling as they technically do not fit the criteria of the gambling law.
As the issue is becoming more and more vocal UKIE also released their statement. for those who don’t know, UKIE is a British organization which is also known as United Kingdom Interactive Entertainment and it looks over the games and entertainment industry situated in the UK.
In an interview with Eurogamer Ukie CEO Dr. Jo Twis says that the loot boxes are already fully compliant with UK regulations so there is no point in classifying it as gambling. Below is his full statement
“The games sector has a history of open and constructive dialogue with regulators, ensuring that games fully comply with UK law and has already discussed similar issues as part of last year’s Gambling Commission paper on virtual currencies, esports and social gaming,” Twist continues. “The games sector also takes its responsibility to players, particularly children, seriously and employs various parental controls across all devices that can prevent unwanted in game purchases.”
Loot boxes as a gambling currently fall under grey area under a majority of laws. one major reason that it cannot be classified as gambling is that when players choose to buy a loot box they buy a virtual product knowing that they can receive any items from it. and the items inside them are basically just another form of the virtual product and have no real value outside the game.
But the real problem arises when these items leave the game ecosystem and are used as items of real value basically like casino chips and are used for betting and so in this cases, the real problems are the third party websites.
But are they really alone to be blamed? Certainly, not the virtual items are owned by the companies and it should be their responsibility to keep in check what happens to them or how are they used.
And some are doing it like Valve issued cease and desist letter to several websites who were abusing this loopholes to make their own gambling rings.
Another law which should be implemented in the whole gaming industry is the displaying the odds of receiving a particular item while opening a loot box. this law has been successfully implemented by China and we may see many more regions to do this in future.