UK Gambling Commission declares that lootboxes currently can't be considered gambling

Discussion in 'GBAtemp & Scene News' started by Chary, Jul 24, 2019.


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    One of the biggest on-going gaming controversies of the tail-end of the decade is, without a doubt, the existence of lootboxes. They've been banned in multiple European countries, and both the United States and United Kingdom have current legal investigations as to the legality and morality of lootboxes being implemented in video games. Since November of last year, the UK Gambling Commission has been looking into lootboxes, with a recent hearing regarding the topic taking place on July 22nd. During that hearing, the Gambling Commission stated that while they have "significant concerns" about children playing games that feature lootboxes as a major gameplay component, they can't consider lootboxes as gambling, in their current form.

    The reasoning behind this is that in order to be classified as gambling, the resulting prizes gotten from within lootboxes must either be money itself, or have an inherent monetary value. In some games, accounts that have lootbox-gained items or skins can be bought and sold, and in other cases, players can pay real money to be traded valued items, however, due to these "black market" sites not being sanctioned or officially endorsed by the gaming companies themselves, publishers cannot be held liable.

    While the UK appears to be conflicted on how to proceed when it comes to lootbox legality, the Netherlands and Berlin have both determined that they classify as gambling, according to their own laws. On the other hand, companies that actively profit from lootboxes, like EA, have said that lootboxes are mere surprise mechanics, and are harmless to consumers.

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    Discussion (95 replies)
  1. Sakitoshi

    Sakitoshi GBAtemp Official Lolimaster

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    I don't know why you use a overwatch lootbox as the image. Those are one of the less important lootboxes in existance since you earn them in-game and only give cosmetics, you can completely ignore them unlike other games.
     
    JavaScribe, lexarvn, Henx and 3 others like this.
  2. Sonic Angel Knight

    Sonic Angel Knight GBAtemp Legend

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    Well I wouldn't call it harmless, some people don't know when to quit the "Surprise Mechanics" feature of their things. Honestly, it doesn't feel like a different mindset using real money on a game rather than fictional currency within the game to quote-unquote gamble a desired item.

    I never actually played games with such gimmicks but I would not like to anyway.
     
    chartube12 likes this.
  3. Sophie-bear

    Sophie-bear The Coolest Bear Around

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    This is a dumb ruling and I hope other nations don't follow suit. You're wagering money in a game of chance to win a prize (good or bad) and that sounds like the definition of gambling to me. They're ignoring every other meaning of gambling other than the money for money one, and that's not right.

    It's risky, it's addictive, and it's a game of chance people are spending real money on. Gambling.
     
  4. linuxares

    linuxares I'm not a generous god!

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    The UK... wtf is wrong with you now days?
     
  5. Xzi

    Xzi All your base are belong to the proletariat

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    Talk about ass-backwards. The fact that you're very unlikely to receive anything of value in return for your money makes it MORE like gambling, not less.
     
  6. Chary
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    Chary Never sleeps.

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    Because a lootbox is a lootbox, really. It gets the point across. It's also the single most popular google image result for Lootbox, with dozens of OW lootbox variants being the first 50 or so results. So recognizable as a "lootbox", that you can even find photoshopped Overwatch lootboxes in the background of EA logos, even though EA and Blizzard aren't even remotely related. Most lootboxes for Fifa or Battlefront II (with EA being the only real company at focus here in the article, and just barely) are far less visually appealing, and also have lots of unneeded text on the front as well.
     
  7. Sakitoshi

    Sakitoshi GBAtemp Official Lolimaster

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    fair enough.
    just something that bothered me every time one of those lootbox post were made.
     
  8. RivenMain

    RivenMain GBAtemp Regular

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    "We call them Surprise mechanics" I just want to know how much D Ea had to get that to happen?
     
  9. ChaosEternal

    ChaosEternal GBAtemp Regular

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    Doesn't this just mean that existing gambling laws won't apply? It's not like they can't still legislate it with laws specifically designed for it. Could be a good thing overall.
     
  10. AbyssalMonkey

    AbyssalMonkey GBAtemp Regular

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    As a by the books ruling, this is expected. As they said, there is no monetary gain. Therefore, under a strict reading, they aren't gambling. No one who knew the law should be surprised about this.

    What is more interesting is that they do acknowledge that the practices can be damaging. They said it themselves: "significant concerns". This means that we will either see new laws or a new regulatory body brought up in the wake of this decision. This is especially true when considering that the only thing that causes them to teeter the line is the fact that there is no monetary gain. In this statement, they have effectively stated: "This is everything leading up to and includes gambling, but can not be ruled as such due to a strict reading of the law."

    Personally, the thing that I find most bullshit about this ruling is the fact that in order to qualify as gambling, you must have the ability to cash out. If lootboxes didn't exist as a faux virtual currency laundering scheme, you would be able to buy the cosmetics outright. That puts a monetary value on the cosmetics. Just because the object is in a virtual form does not mean it does not have value. By utilizing lootboxes, they are effectively hiding the cost of the object. This is the same shitty reason they use virtual currencies. These virtual currencies are one of the most damning evidences against lootboxes, because you pay into them to get currency, then pay with that fake currency to randomize a reward, and you also have a chance of getting some back with duplicates, or gathering rewards that would otherwise be bought or changed back into currency, offering a way to cash out.

    It is, in entirety, virtual gambling. The only reason it isn't ruled as real gambling is because there is no cash out in real life.
     
  11. DS1

    DS1 伝説の雀士

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    Hmmmm... I understand that the reasoning is sound based on a strict definition of gambling, but given that same definition, I feel like the "gambling" people are talking about when they argue "gambling is bad/gambling can be harmful", is not the same "gambling" that meets this strict definition.
     
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  12. npiet1

    npiet1 Member

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    Yeah, it does sound like they will create specific laws for lootboxes, which is great.

    I'm fine with them as long as it's 18+ to buy or they are free from in game.
     
  13. Hells Malice

    Hells Malice Are you a bully?

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    I'll never understand such a pointless need to get involved with something that matters so little.

    If you don't like loot boxes, don't buy 'em. Don't support games even if that's your view. Consumers hold all the power. Loot boxes exist because they sell. It's that simple.

    Basically anything can become an addiction and cause overspending. Yes loot boxes perpetuate it a little stronger because of things like the gamblers fallacy and other mindsets. However some games have found ways to profit from straight purchases. The mobile game Ragnarok M basically has a whale auction where very rare items are sold and people bid money to win. I dunno about global/sea but in China people have spent over $75,000 on single items. I wanna say something was over $150k but I forget exactly. Either way, it's huge money.


    You can keep cutting individual thorns off of roses, but it's more efficient to teach people how to properly handle them instead.

    Financial classes are sorely needed in many school systems. It always blows my mind how bad with money so many people are.
     
  14. tabzer

    tabzer GBAtemp Fan

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    This is how Pachinko exists in Japan. You can only spend money on pachinko balls, but you can't cash them out... at the establishment. Although, next door or around the block is a place that will buy the balls back from you.
     
    osaka35 likes this.
  15. osaka35

    osaka35 Instructional Designer

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    "let's adhere to the letter of the law rather than the heart of the law"

    Redefine the problem so it's not a problem you have to deal with. Sounds about right.
     
  16. tabzer

    tabzer GBAtemp Fan

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    "It depends upon what the meaning of the word 'is' is"
     
  17. Viri

    Viri GBAtemp Addict

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    If more countries have the same rulings, they're going to double down, and then triple down! If you think this is as far as they can monetize, you're in for a rude awakening. I'm happy I don't give even the slightest fuck about EA games, but I worry more devs will follow them.
     
  18. AbyssalMonkey

    AbyssalMonkey GBAtemp Regular

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    It all comes down to not exploiting people, and social safety nets. Education doesn't prevent everything, and people in exploitable positions are in no place to make sound judgements. Consumer protections against things like addictive drugs, monopolies, false advertising, and many others are there to prevent undue harm against the people. Casino regulation is very much the same, with many nations around the world demanding minimum odds, minimum payout percentage, disclosing odds for games, and more, all to educate the player and protect them for as long as possible.

    This is fundamentally a consumer protection issue. This is not a free market issue. This is not an issue where you vote with your wallet. This is an issue about people.
     
    lexarvn and osaka35 like this.
  19. Veho

    Veho The man who cried "Ni".

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    The court has ruled that lootboxes are worthless ;o;
     
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