DCMS report calls for further regulation on loot boxes

A House of Commons committee has advised that further regulation on in-game spending and video game loot boxes is considered, with the committee recommending that children should be banned from purchasing them.

The recommendations come as part of an inquiry by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) which aimed to develop a report on ‘addictive and immersive technologies’. 

The report was published on Thursday following numerous months of parliamentary hearings with technology and gaming companies. 

Damian Collins, the chair of the committee, commented: “Loot boxes are particularly lucrative for games companies but come at a high cost, particularly for problem gamblers, while exposing children to potential harm. 

“Buying a loot box is playing a game of chance and it is high time the gambling laws caught up. We challenge the government to explain why loot boxes should be exempt from the Gambling Act.”

The report argued that online games should receive the same levels of age restriction as physical sales of gambling products to best protect its users, and that the gaming industry should contribute financially towards independent research into the long-term effects of gaming.

Responding to the report, Dr Jo Twist, the chief executive of games industry body Ukie, explained: “We will review these recommendations with utmost seriousness and consult with the industry on how we demonstrate further our commitment to player safety – especially concerning minors and vulnerable people.

“The video games industry has always, and will continue to, put the welfare of players at the heart of what we do. The industry does not dispute that, for a minority, finding balance is a problem.This is why we are vocal in supporting efforts to increase digital literacy and work with schools and carers on education programmes.”

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