Everyone calm down! Loot boxes aren’t gambling according to UK’s Digital Minister

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Continuing the UK’s general inquiry into the legality of loot boxes, Margot James stated that loot boxes are in no way gambling but do lead to gambling. Should we tell her?

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Over the past few weeks, the UK has been following up on claims that loot boxes, every publisher’s favourite form of income, function as some form of gambling targeted at children. While many have come up to testify why there should be tighter regulations on loot boxes, some even maintaining they be made illegal, others have defended them. Just a few weeks ago EA described loot boxes as surprise mechanics” which garnered them quite a bit of mockery online. The latest person to offer a somewhat half-hearted defence of loot boxes is Margot James, Conservative and Digital Minister for parliament.

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James contested “the assumption that loot boxes are gambling”, citing the cases of Belgium and Netherland’s conclusions that loot boxes do constitute gambling and states that more research is necessary before any drastic measures be taken. She defends her claims by stating that those two countries just have different standards as to what constitutes as gambling, yet never goes into detail to describe what those standards are or how they differ to the UK. What’s truly strange is that despite decrying the gambling nature of loot boxes, she goes further to say that they may be responsible in provoking those who already have “a propensity to gambling” to take it even further. Basically, loot boxes aren’t gambling, but they can persuade people who like gambling togamble more? Sure. Okay.

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James believes that the UK should do nothing to improve their digital gambling laws to cover loot boxes and should instead wait for more grounded research to make a final and definitive claim. This comes after the World Health Organisation officially announced gaming addiction to be a real mental illness although James claims this evidence is not enough and needs to be evaluated further. A deep dive into James’ testimony can be found here.

Last Updated: July 4, 2019

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