UK Committee to Probe Link between Gaming and Gambling

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A girl playing League of Legends

The British Parliament will look into a possible correlation between gambling habits and video gaming, as part of its latest initiative called “immersive and addictive technologies”.

The UK and Addictive Technologies

The United Kingdom is not new to the idea of technologies that entail rather reckless gambling behavior. Earlier this year, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) published a study in which it gauged whether loot boxes (digital containers granting virtual goods in video games) were tantamount to gambling, and worse – whether they led to addiction.

Damian Collins, Chair of the Digital and Sports Committee in the UK Parliament.
Damian Collins, Chair of the Digital and Sports Committee in the UK Parliament.

While the UKGC concluded that they weren’t, elsewhere loot boxes are considered a sort of gambling. Australia, the Netherlands and Belgium have already banned these virtual goods by law, arguing that they lead to addictive practices.

Now, the UK parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee is setting out to address the possible issue of video games that are “immersive and addictive,” as part of a new inquiry.

The committee will examine the growing popularity of so-called competitive video gaming (esports) and virtual and augmented reality. The increase in the number of people who play video games will also be taken into account with the committee seeking to protect consumer rights.

All in-game purchases will come under scrutiny and the potential effects they have on children will be considered. All of this is done out of a need to evaluate the impact games have on people’s lives, committee’s chair Damian Collins said.

During our recent inquiries, the committee has heard repeated concerns about the impact to society of the increasing amounts of time that people spend immersed in online worlds, and the potentially addictive nature of social media and gaming. – Damian Collins

Mr. Collins has shown himself quite determine to seek a proper response to addressing any potential issue that could have an adverse effect on the population. Another important point the committee will rise is the handling of private data by providers and developers of technologies.

The appetite for gaming has grown significantly in the United Kingdom over the past years, with the market reaching the staggering £5.2 billion of net worth in 2017 alone, but the forecasts are much more encouraging. Presently, the segment adds as much as £3 billion to the UK’s economy.

Brexit, of course, threatens this vibrant growth as it could potentially drain the industry of talent. Nevertheless, the cogwheels of gaming studios are turning smoothly for the time being. According to Mr. Collins, the UK remains a leader in industries such as gaming and esports.

We’ll be looking at what action is needed to ensure we remain a key player. Technology such as virtual reality and augmented reality is already an important asset to the film industry, simulated training, and gaming.

The importance of technological advantages such as augmented reality and virtual reality concerns other industries as well, including film making, simulated training, and of course gaming itself. Mr. Collins is tasked with finding ways to preserve the UK’s leadership position in all of these segments while ensuring that customers are protected.

With the UKGC not qualifying loot boxes are so far in the clear, it’s time to explore the link between gambling and video games.

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