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Campaign class loot boxes as gambling

The Gambling Health Alliance (GHA) launches a campaign calling for paid-for loot boxes to be classed as a form of gambling and banned from video games played by under 18s.

#LidOnLoots, led by the Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH), comes after research with young gamers revealed that 91% view buying a loot box as a form of gambling.

Current legislation does not class loot boxes as gambling because the items won cannot be ‘cashed out’.

However, the survey found that one in 10 gamers ‘always’ or ‘often’ sell the item won in a loot box for money, making this activity gambling according to legislation, as the prize results in money.

One third said that games rarely make it clear from the start they feature loot boxes that have to be paid for.

Two in five think spending money on a loot box when under 18 would make them more likely to gamble when older.

While 75% feel that buying a loot box is bad for their health, citing feelings of addiction, regret and anger.

Dr Stephen Kaar and Dr Atheeshaan Arumuham from Gaming the Mind, a UK-based registered charity working at the intersection of gaming and mental health, said:

‘This important research highlights that there are young gamers with significant concerns about harms related to loot boxes, and they do not feel appropriately safeguarded.

‘Their experiences should be taken seriously. This demands further study into the effects of loot boxes, particularly among vulnerable populations.

‘Loot box mechanics in games should now be regulated in the same manner as gambling, to safeguard young people and vulnerable adults.’

This Safer Gambling Week (19-25 November), the GHA is asking supporters of the #LidOnLoots campaign to call out the worst offending games that feature loot boxes. And to boycott buying them in the run-up to Christmas using #LidOnLoots to show support on social media.

Deputy chief executive of RSPH, said: ‘Many young people today face a gamble every time they log on to play their favourite game.

‘We are concerned that this could very well normalise gambling for a generation of young people, with concerns that this may make them more likely to have problems with gambling as they get older.

‘Video gaming is a fun activity for many, particularly during lockdown but the view from gamers is very clear, the overwhelming majority regard the presence of loot boxes as a form of gambling.

‘In the UK alone the loot box market is worth £700m, it’s high time we opened our eyes to this, and give young people the protection they deserve and, as our polling shows, are asking for.’

For more information on the campaign, including ways to support, visit the #LidOnLoots homepage.

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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