New discussions to restrict loot boxes and not allow individuals younger than 18 to use them are underway in Australia.
A Committee in Australia Calls for Loot Boxes Restrictions Again
Once again, the debate about the ambiguous nature of loot boxes has resounded in the halls of higher governance. An Australian House of Representatives Committee has petitioned the government to usher in new restrictions on loot boxes in video games.
According to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs, loot boxes effectively constitute a form of gambling and therefore threaten the well-being of vulnerable individuals, such as children and young people.
The Committee fears that by letting loot boxes go unchecked, Australia is in fact facilitating underage gambling. To argue their case, the representatives have turned to the Digital Transformation Agency and Australian Cyber Security Center and now hope that the institution would take their advice into consideration.
Introducing Age Verification to Better Ensure the Safety of Vulnerable Individuals
Representatives hope that a new blanket mechanism for online age verification can be introduced so that underage individuals are restricted from accessing video game content that could be harmful to them.
Yet, the standards should go even further and lay the foundations of security, usability, accessibility, safety, privacy, and data-handling practices. The representatives also insist on the government to adopt some of the highest age-verification standards in the world. Specifically, those used by the United Kingdom and the European Union and specifically the General Data Protection Regulation.
Similarly, the Committee recommends that the Office of the eSafety Commissioner is in charge of creating a framework on how to best restrict children’s access to loot boxes.
Representatives have asked for these restrictions to apply to individuals who are younger than 18 years old. Meanwhile, the committee has also addressed underage gambling as a whole. According to representatives, the process of online verification at gambling sites should be expedited, similar to what happened in the United Kingdom recently, so that no underage individuals are actually allowed to gamble.
Gambling Still Reaches Kids
Another area where the government can improve in is the creation of adequate educational materials. Those could help parents address the symptoms of problem gambling or seek help as soon as they identify them in children.
Australia is one of the nations which has the highest rate of active gamblers across the entire populace. In fact, a study published back in 2017 indicated that 40% of all kids had gambled at least once in their lives.
However, a study published at the end of 2019, indicated that fewer than one-in-six children aged 16-17 had gambled. Tha applied to the twelve months leading up to the interview for the study. Loot boxes have been a contentious topic for a while now.
Some countries in Europe, including the Netherlands and Belgium, have ordered EA to stop using loot boxes. Microtransactions and loot boxes, however, are one of the main ways that game developers generate revenues today. That is especially true for those focusing on the multiplayer gaming experience.