Independent gambling harm consultancy EPIC Risk Management called on UK authorities to ban the sale of video game ‘loot box’ products to people under 18s, citing findings of its survey conducted this month.
Paving the Way to Gambling
EPIC’s research conducted across 31 schools in the UK and having 1,793 children participating revealed that 30% of the survey participants had been participating in practices akin to gambling such as loot box purchases or skin betting.
Following the survey findings, EPIC is proposing that the UK follows in the footsteps of the Netherlands and Belgium and imposes an outright ban on the sales of loot boxes to children. Further, EPIC calls for widely available education on loot boxes for parents and guardians to bring them to an understanding of how a gambling product integrated within a video game may be affecting their kids.
EPIC’s survey found out that 19% of the children surveyed had gambled within the past 12 months. Of that group, 3% can already be considered as having developed problematic gambling, 5% are potentially ‘at risk’ of developing a gambling addiction while both subgroups outlined that loot boxes and skin betting were part of their gambling experience.
“The survey results are extremely concerning; they suggest once again that the true scale of the issue of loot box gambling is terrifying,” outlined EPIC Risk Management’s gaming and eSports consultant Jonathan Peniket.
Peniket, who has spoken at the round table discussions within the House of Lords on the subject of loot boxes, is no foreigner to the harm caused by them and is convinced the time for action has already come.
“It is disappointing that we are still yet to hear any response to the government’s call for evidence on the issue which closed some 16 months ago now. Loot boxes continue to create awful situations in people’s lives and their regulation in the UK, as seen in other European countries, is critical.”
Jonathan Peniket, Consultant, Gaming and eSports, EPIC Risk Management
Peniket shared his experience with loot boxes in an interview with the BBC in the summer of 2020 in which he revealed how he had wasted all his university savings, £3,000 ($3,770) while playing FIFA and chasing the buzz from obtaining certain players for his team by buying ‘Player Packs’ instead of spending his time on A-level revision.
His story was a major catalyst behind the House of Lords Gambling Committee’s call for a ban on loot boxes in July 2020 but in April this year, it has been reported in the media that some ministers, seeking to avoid placing a ban on loot boxes, have called game developers asking them to self-regulate the sales of these products to minors.
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