Australian Government: More research needed on whether or not loot boxes are gambling

Keep those credit cards hot, because the Australian Government isn't about to stop you buying loot boxes any time soon

March 6, 2019 4:30 PM

Loot Boxes in Australia won’t be subjected to further regulation after the Australian Government provided its response to the inquiry into “Gaming micro-transactions for chance-based items”.

In their response the government said that there was more research required before a link between gaming micro-transactions and gambling could firmly be established and that game developers had a role to play in consumer protection.

The Australian Government acknowledges the committee's observation that research on gambling-related harms experienced as a result of loot boxes in games is in its infancy, and that developing an evidence-based regulatory approach to mitigate against any harms is challenging until further research is complete.

The Australian Government also said that the video game industry "has a significant role to play in protecting consumers," suggesting parental controls, spending limits and other restrictions.

Loot Boxes are sometimes called Gacha systems, after the Japanese toy vending machines. Credit: Charles Nguyen under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0

The Belgium Gaming Commission determined in November last year that loot boxes in games were “in violation of gambling legislation” according to BBC News, and publishers such as EA to stop selling some micro-transactions as a response to the ban.

Some games such as Battlefront II have removed elements of their loot box systems, after players complained about the perceived exploitative unlocks available in the game's loot boxes.

Star Cards which were used unlock player progression were originally randomly found in Battlefront II's lootboxes before being removed after player backlash.

The Interactive Games and Entertainment Association, one of the peak bodies representing the game development industry, supported the government’s response.

IGEA welcomes the Government’s agreement with the committee that loot boxes are already subject to both state and federal laws and that there is currently insufficient evidence for further regulation. We note the Government’s conclusion that a formal departmental review of loot boxes is not warranted at this time.

So if you were sitting on the fence about buying $700 of loot boxes in Apex Legends, maybe there are other compelling reasons NOT to do so.

You can read the Senate's Environment and Communications References Committee report and the government response here.

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