The state of Victoria has joined the throng of governments who have voiced concern about the practices of loot boxes in games.
Belgium and Hawaii have both come out against loot boxes today and now the state of Victoria has joined the ranks. Reddit user -Caesar wrote to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) inquiring as to the legal status of loot boxes in games.
Loot Boxes are Gambling
-Caeser got in contact with the regulatory body and received a response from Strategic Analyst for the Compliance Division at VCGLR Jarrod Wolfe. Wolfe replied with a detailed email to -Caeser stating;
Your research and suppositions on the matter are correct; what occurs with “loot boxes” does constitute gambling by the definition of the Victorian Legislation. Unfortunately where the complexity arises is in jurisdiction and our powers to investigate. Legislation has not moved as quick as the technology; at both State and Federal level we are not necessarily equipped to determine the legality of these practices in lieu of the fact the entities responsible are overseas.
Wolfe, like Representative Chris Lee from Hawaii, used the term ‘predatory’ to describe the practices of some loot boxes and pay-to-win economies.
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“The focus of my concerns currently is on the more predatory aspects related to “pay to win”. Skins, skins betting and virtual currencies are certainly a peripheral consideration. However, the idea that (genuine) progression in a game could be reliant on the outcome of a random number generator is at odds with responsible gambling and the objectives of our acts.
More importantly, the normalisation of gambling vernacular and mechanics targeted at vulnerable persons (minors), is not just morally reprehensible but is also legally questionable.”
-Caeser followed up on Wolfe’s response by asking some more in-depth questions, specifically about companies residing overseas, how this affects Australian users and how consumers can affect change. Wolfe again replied giving examples of betting agencies that operate from the UK differing from a group of friends playing poker at home.
Gambling is for 18+ only
Wolfe went on to explain that the VCGLR’s role wouldn’t be one of enforcement, but rather one where it works with other agencies to bring about change. “For instance; if these companies want to include significant elements of gambling in their products then perhaps we should work with “The Australian Classification Board” to ensure that any product that does that and monetises it gets an immediate R rating.
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“I could imagine that this would send ripples through the industry and it would support the objectives of the Gambling Legislation to ensure minors are not encouraged to participate in gambling.”
If games that included loot boxes were automatically rated R18+, the impacts on the wider industry would be enormous.
Star Wars: Battlefront II has caused some major rippled throughout the industry and wider gamer community. It’s available now.