Australia to study loot box links to gambling

By Oliver Rudgewick

Australia's Senate passed a motion on Wednesday to investigate loot box systems in video games after a study found that loot boxes in 10 of the 22 games tested could be considered psychologically similar to gambling.

Loot boxes are a purchasable random reward system in video games; they can be purchased with in-game currencies (coins, gold, keys etc.) and in most cases with real world money.

The motion was proposed by Greens Senator Jordan Steele-John and supported by the entire Senate, meaning there is no need for debate or a Senate vote.  

The motion, which was supplied to video game news site Kotaku, outlines two particular points of concern. The first is whether the purchase of chance-based items, combined with the ability to monetise these items on third-party platforms, constitutes a form of gambling.

The second point of concern involves the adequacy of consumer protection and the regulatory framework for in-game micro transactions for chance-based items, including international comparisons, age requirements and disclosure of odds.

The Environment and Communications References Committee will conduct the investigation, with Senator Steele-Jordan as chair. The findings are due to be published in September.

“I have significant concerns about the adequacy of current consumer protection and regulatory frameworks for monetised game mechanics, particularly when we know they are accessible to children,” Senator Steele-John said in a statement.

“The impact of gambling on people’s lives is such that we cannot afford to stay silent on this issue."

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