UK Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries Margot James appeared before the Commons committee of the UK Parliament earlier this week to offer her opinion on the status of loot boxes in video games. Most notably, she “contest[s] the assumption that loot boxes are gambling,” while acknowledging that action may still need to be taken if “evidence does emerge that loot boxes can be a gateway to problem gambling.”
According to GamesIndustry.biz, the minister acknowledged the legal status of loot boxes in countries like Belgium and The Netherlands, saying that “our gambling laws are different” and that more research was needed to examine the possibility of a link between loot boxes and addictive gambling behavior.
James did not absolve game companies of the role they play in potential loot box addiction, saying that they “have a duty of care even with or without regulation” and that it’s a matter they “should take seriously and there are a variety of ways they could introduce support for their userbase.”
I won’t quote every word James spoke at the hearing — or at least the ones that were quoted by GI.biz. You can read the article in full to get all of that. I did like her approach, however, of wanting to look for more information and research before regulation is enacted by the government, while also not letting game companies completely off the hook. In essence, while she doesn’t think loot boxes are gambling — yet — she still thinks they could be something that requires regulation down the road, which is a take I’ve had for a couple of years now.