An online loot box petition asking that gambling laws adapt to include in-game lockboxes as gambling is expected to receive an official UK government response. The petition filed to the UK Parliament website has achieved the minimum 10k signatures required to receive an official response from Parliament.
The petition argues that loot boxes in games “are essentially gambling of which are targeted at children and vulnerable adults” and that they “copy many traits to make them as addictive” as what is considered “real” gambling.
In addition to the petition, Labour MP Daniel Zeichner has filed two questions to Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. The questions ask what steps are being planned to protect “vulnerable adults and children from illegal gambling, in-game gambling and loot boxes within computer games”, along with an assessment on the effectiveness of regulations by the Isle of Man against the practice and whether those same protections have been discussed for use in the UK proper.
Currently, the Gambling Commission does not believe that loot boxes fall under the definition of gambling due to the items earned holding no real-world value. The response echoes a statement from the ESRB regarding the practice, which equates the opening of in-game loot boxes to opening a pack of cards for a CCG.
According to the petition website, the UK government has three days to issue a response. If the petition achieves 100k signatures, the matter could be brought up for debate in Parliament. As of this writing, the petition has just over 11k signatures and has a deadline of April 4th, 2018.
It would appear that loot box practices are finally getting on the nerves of enough people to demand some level of pushback, at least in the UK. It’s easy to assume that the official response will come off as dismissive, but if nothing else this appears to have raised the volume of discussion about the matter across the gaming world. Ideally, this will lead to changes in loot box practices, but only time will tell.