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OnlineLegal & Regulatory

UK Government won’t ban video game loot boxes

The UK Government will not ban loot boxes in video games as part of its review of the gambling industry, as reported by the Guardian.

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The decision comes despite a Government consultation finding evidence of a consistent association between the features of loot boxes and problem gambling.

Loot boxes, which are popular in video games such as FIFA and Call of Duty, allow players to spend money to unlock in-game rewards like special characters, outfits or weapons, without knowing exactly what they will get.

The feature was effectively banned in Belgium in 2018, but Culture Minister Nadine Dorries says the UK will not follow suit, and will instead discuss tougher industry-led protections with the sector.

Dorries said that legislation to impose curbs on loot boxes could have unintended consequences, with the Government stating: “For example, legislation to introduce an outright ban on children purchasing loot boxes could have the unintended effect of more children using adult accounts, and thus having more limited parental oversight of their play and spending.

“Our view is that it would be premature to take legislative action without first pursuing enhanced industry-led measures to deliver protections for children and young people and all players.”

Ministers are expected to hold talks with the UK video games industry via a working group, which will deliver its first update in early 2023.

A statement from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) read: “We expect games companies and platforms to improve protections for children, young people and adults, and for tangible results to begin to be seen in the near future.

“If that does not happen, we will not hesitate to consider legislative options, if we deem it necessary to protect children, young people and adults.”

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