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UKGC Rules Out Against Loot Boxes

Loot boxes have been one of the most divisive topics of the iGaming and esports worlds and regulatory bodies have been looking into them with all due seriousness. Knowing that they are used by mostly adolescent and under-age gamers, the UK Gambling Commission has now decided that loot boxes are in fact akin to gambling.

Gambling with Pixels: UKGC Votes Against Loot Boxes

A newly surfaced report has indicated that the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) is now considering loot boxes to be a form of gambling leading to a problem in children. The results published recently are worrying, with 50,000 children joining those from two years ago, who are reportedly developing an issue with handling gambling-related products.

Though the 50,000 cited to be addicted to loot boxes is a worrying number, the UKGC estimates that 450,000 children in total, aged between 11 and 16, are already regular gamblers who abuse a number of substances that they are not legally allowed to have access to.

Even though wagers between themselves along with scratch cards are the most common from of underage gambling, loot boxes are playing an even more significant role, the study reveals. Meanwhile, prominent community figures have been raising the alarm against the vulnerability of children and their raising proclivity for gambling:

Today’s findings by the Gambling Commission makes worrying reading and serves as a warning to parents – Bishop of St Albans Right Reverend Alan Smith.

The damning report comes rather belatedly, after Australia has carried a similar one on its own, concluding that they were indeed like any other gambling product and could lead to addiction. There have been a number of worrying indicators of that with a spate of European government voting against the addictive digital containers of goodies.

The specific numbers of the findings were no less worrying either. People who gambled in the week leading to the publishing of the report spent an average of £16 on gambling products. Estimated 60% of children reported that their parents would rather not have them gamble, but only 19% said that parents effectively sought to control this.

Many of those interviewed admitted that they had been using gambling websites despite being prohibited to people under the age of 18. Loot boxes constitute an important part of that, too, but it’s far the most damning evidence cited in the report.

For example, only 10% of all pubs in the United Kingdom sought to effectively curb the practice of underage gambling while the remainder of those interviewed tolerated it rather readily at that. Cases of children ending their lives over gambling debts or after developing a problem have been abundant.

In one famous case, Liz Richie’s son committed suicide after developing a gambling habit off FOBTs, the piece of regulation that is now vehemently contested, but is expected to come into play as early as April, 2019.

According to Richie, deregulation had led to her son’s addiction. Loot boxes might be just a path to equally troubling problem.

Heidi Specter

As an avid follower of sports and the newly recognised industry of esports, Heidi uses her expertise to help the team push out the best sports content. She is also continually learning more about the gambling industry in general and pushes out a variety of content.