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Loot boxes have been defined as “features in video games which may be accessed through gameplay, or purchased with in-game items, virtual currencies, or directly with real-world money”. They often appear as chests, crates, or card packs.

Concerns have been raised about the structural and psychological similarities between loot boxes and gambling and that they can encourage children to gamble.

The Gambling Commission has stated that the Gambling Act 2005 does not cover loot boxes. It therefore cannot use any of its regulatory powers to act. However, the Commission has also said that it is “concerned with the growth in examples where the line between video gaming and gambling is becoming increasingly blurred”.

In September 2019, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee published a report on immersive and addictive technologies. This called for Regulations to be made to extend the 2005 Act to loot boxes. A House of Lords Committee report (July 2020) on gambling harm also called for loot boxes to be brought within the scope of the Act.

In June 2020, as part of its response to the DCMS Committee report, the Government announced that it would be launching a call for evidence into the impact of loot boxes on gambling-like behaviour. The call for evidence ran from 23 September 2020 to 22 November 2020. Over 30,000 responses were received. On 21 July 2021, the DCMS said that its response would be published in the “coming months”.

The call for evidence forms part of the Government’s wider Review of the Gambling Act. This closed on 31 March 2021. The DCMS aims to publish a White Paper setting out its next steps by the end of the year.

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