UK Gambling Commission declares that lootboxes currently can't be considered gambling
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.
UK Gambling Commission chief exec said:There are other examples of things that look and feel like gambling that legislation tells you are not - [such as] some prize competitions but because they have free play or free entry they are not gambling... but they are a lot like a lottery,
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.