Bishop of St Albans asks about gambling and video games

The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on 5th September 2022:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked Her Majesty’s Government:

  • what plans they have to increase monitoring of third-party websites that enable the trading of loot box items.
  • what assessment they have made of the link between loot boxes and problem gambling.
  • what assessment they have made of whether loot boxes are (1) games of chance, and (2) capable of being exchanged for real money.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con): Her Majesty’s Government’s response(opens in a new tab) to the call for evidence sets out our findings on loot boxes, and our view on the next steps to address the issues it identified.

The call for evidence identified an association between the purchase of loot boxes and problem gambling. There are, however, a range of plausible explanations for this association, and research has not established whether a causal relationship exists.

Loot boxes vary in their design and deployment within games. Loot box rewards are usually confined for use within a given game and cannot be sold for real world currency, so are unlikely to meet the Gambling Act 2005’s definition of a prize of ‘money or money’s worth’.

It is for the Gambling Commission to decide on a case-by-case basis whether to pursue enforcement action against any operations which it believes to be facilitating unlicensed gambling. It has shown that it can and will take action where the trading of items obtained from loot boxes brings loot box mechanics within the statutory definitions of gambling. Its recent uplift in fees has given the regulator new resources to monitor for and tackle unlicensed gambling.




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