The UK Gambling Commission has joined forces with 14 other gambling regulators to investigate gambling in video games.
A total of 15 regulators, from across Europe and in Washington, will be examining the “blurred lines” between video games and gambling amid concerns over the risks to children.
There’s been growing concern over gambling-themed content in video games such as loot boxes, rewards in video games that contain items hidden from view until after they have been won or purchased.
Critics have argued that anyone buying loot boxes is effectively gambling, prompting an outcry from parents and gamers across the world.
— Gambling Commission (@GamRegGB) September 17, 2018
Now, the 15 regulators hope to bring a stop to gambling in video games. In a joint statement, the group revealed they will “thoroughly analyse” the way video games are designed, including the use of loot boxes, in order to ensure they met the national gambling laws.
They said: “We are increasingly concerned with the risks being posed by the blurring lines between gambling and other forms of digital entertainment such as video gaming.
“Concerns in this area have manifested themselves in controversies relating to skin betting, loot boxes, social casino gaming and the use of gambling-themed content within video games available to children.”
According to The Telegraph, the 15 regulators will issue a crackdown on unlicensed third-party websites that allow illegal gambling of items and contents linked to popular games. This includes “skin betting” in which items won while playing video games can be turned into real cash or gambled on third-party websites.
In a statement, a UK Gambling Commission spokesperson called on the gaming industry to do more to stop illegal gambling, saying: “There is more that some parts of the video game industry can do to prevent these illegal websites from exploiting their platforms.
“In terms of what we can do, we will continue to take appropriate action to close illegal websites that come to our attention. We will also continue to challenge the video games industry, advertising platforms and payment providers to ensure they cut off the oxygen to unlicensed gambling websites or those who provide opportunities to cash-in in-game items.”
The news comes after Belgium banned lot boxes from the country, prompting several games developers to remove the feature from their games. However, EA Games, the developer behind games such as FIFA, has refused to do so and now faces a criminal investigation.