We all know it’s illegal to gamble under the age of 18, right? However, with gaming leaning more and more on “mystery” loot boxes – are children tempted to spend money, often their parents’ money on these loot boxes?
Loot boxes often contain rare in-game items that cannot be obtained through regular gameplay – so it’s easy to understand why this would appeal to any avid gamer. However, does this classify as gambling and should we be doing more to protect children who game?
Some of these loot boxes don’t require real-life money and can be “farmed” – think games like Overwatch where you’re rewarded with a loot box for every level you climb. However, some argue that this encourages riskier playing behaviour and an addiction to the game, and many are calling for more restrictions to be put in place to prevent this type of playing behaviour.
The same concept could apply in real-life scenarios too – we all know fruit machines are for over-18s but what about the 2p machines or toy grabbers? How much are children siphoning into these machines in the hope of winning a prize to take home with them? Plus, with a lack of security, fruit machines rely on parental responsibility to ensure under-18s aren’t using these.
Online is a different story when it comes to traditional gambling and betting. Sites such as NetBet validate the user’s age before allowing them to create an account, and there can be serious repercussions for any sites found not following these rules, too.
The Gambling Commission, however, don’t seem to see an issue or a link between online gaming and gambling, and don’t define loot box farming as gambling. They state it would only be defined as gambling if the player had the opportunity or choice to turn the loot boxes back into real money. Many disagree with this statement, as loot box farming can turn into an addictive process, with players getting tempted to simply buy the loot boxes to avoid the hours of gameplay otherwise necessary to get them.
However, in 2016, the commission successfully brought about a prosecution charge against a website which was offering ‘skins gambling’. Skins gambling is the wagering of in-game materials (usually skins, weapons etc) to bet on the outcome of an online game. It has primarily occurred in high profile players’ games of CounterStrike, but does exist elsewhere.
This prosecution shows that despite there being no monetary exchange in this skins gambling situation, the process of betting and wagering was recognised by the Gambling Commission as an activity which should be age restricted to protect children in gaming and online gaming especially. This is a hugely progressive and positive step for online gaming rules.
The Commission state they have every duty to protect children online, and sites like NetBet ( more you can find at https://www.bcasinoreview.com) are making this easier for them with their extensive age verification processes and strict over-18s policy. Let’s hope more online outlets are following in their footsteps to ensure only people allowed to gamble are doing so.