Great Britain’s Gambling Commission Announces Stance on Loot Boxes

Great Britain’s Gambling Commission, the group that regulates legal commercial gambling in Great Britain, has announced their stance on the inclusion of purchasable loot boxes in video games.

The first point they raise is the clarification that, while they do monitor the laws and definitions for areas that need to be changed, the commission is not the group who can actually decide if something can be legally classed as gambling: Only the British Parliament has that authority. In their own words:

“Our starting point in deciding our position with any product is to look closely at whether or not it falls under UK gambling law. The definition of what is legally classed as gambling is set by Parliament rather than by us. Our role is to apply that definition to activities that we see and any changes to that definition need to be made by Parliament.”

The most important point, however, is that the Commission does not consider loot boxes to be gambling in the conventional manner. The main deciding point in the matter is that it’s not possible to gain money straight from the game’s loot boxes. In their words:

“A key factor in deciding if that line has been crossed is whether in-game items acquired ‘via a game of chance’ can be considered money or money’s worth. In practical terms this means that where in-game items obtained via loot boxes are confined for use within the game and cannot be cashed out it is unlikely to be caught as a licensable gambling activity. In those cases our legal powers would not allow us to step in.”

It should be noted that the Commission has stepped in on matters relating to randomised loot in video games before, but the previous case was made more because the site was accessible to children and not officially licensed.

This all likely relates to the numerous discussions that have arisen due to the increased presence of loot boxes within the gaming industry (in particular, EA’s Star Wars: Battlefront II, Activision’s Destiny 2 and Warner Bros.’ Middle-earth: Shadow of War), and whether or not such practices need tighter regulations. It is currently unknown what Parliament’s stance on the matter is, though if the Gambling Commission doesn’t consider loot boxes needing different regulations, it is unlikely that Parliament will.

Source: “Loot Boxes within video games.”