UKGC ‘constrained by the current legislation’ on loot boxes

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has disclosed to MPs that it currently does not have measures in place to oversee the sale of ‘in-game content’ such as Fifa ‘player packs’ and video game loot boxes due to the lack of clarity on how such customer engagements are monetised. 

As it stands, such products are not defined as gambling due to the lack of monetary prize however, such items can be traded on third-party sites with real money, which the UKGC has emphasised falls under a ‘gambling definition’.

The programme director for the commission, Brad Enright, argued that the UKGC has been ‘constrained by the current legislation’, but emphasised that more needs to be done to crack down on those who were failing to protect players from selling in-game content for cash, or gambling with them, on third party websites. 

“The popular game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is the game we’ve seen the most inquiries about,” Enright told MPs. “We’ve had dialogue with Valve Corporation [which publishes the game]. Where we draw their attention to particular games where British consumers including children are gambling on those sites, they have closed them down.

“We’ve said that’s not a sustainable approach. They’ve created this situation … and there’s an onus and responsibility on them to address the by product of how they’re operating.”

Speaking at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport select committee, Gambling Commission chief executive Neil McCarthur highlighted a number of “significant concerns” relating to children playing video games in which there were elements of expenditure and chance.

“There are other examples of things that look and feel like gambling that legislation tells you are not – [such as] some prize competitions but because they have free play or free entry they are not gambling… but they are a lot like a lottery,” he said.

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