UK lockbox gambling regulation petition receives baffling government response

    
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A formal UK petition requesting that video game gambling laws be adjusted to include language covering lockboxes passed 10,000 signatures earlier this week, ensuring that the petition would receive a response from the government, which it now has, although no one concerned about the issue will be impressed at the reply.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Tracey Crouch is a bit of a dodge, like PEGI’s statement earlier this week. As Eurogamer points out, Crouch’s reply – repeated verbatim for each question asked – refers to the UK Gambling commission’s paper on third-party gambling websites, which as you’ll recall since we covered it has nothing to do with in-game lockboxes.

“The Gambling Commission released a position paper in March 2017 detailing existing protections in place for in-game gambling, virtual currencies and loot boxes.

“Where items obtained in a computer game can be traded or exchanged outside the game platform they acquire a monetary value, and where facilities for gambling with such items are offered to consumers located in Britain a Gambling Commission licence is required. If no licence is held, the Commission uses a wide range of regulatory powers to take action.

“Protecting children and vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited by gambling is one of the core objectives of the regulation of gambling in Great Britain and a priority for the government. The Gambling Commission have a range of regulatory powers to take action where illegal gambling is taking place. Earlier this year the Gambling Commission successfully prosecuted the operators of a website providing illegal gambling facilities for in-game items which was accessible to children – the first regulator in the world to bring such an action.

“The government recognise the risks that come from increasing convergence between gambling and computer games. The Gambling Commission is keeping this matter under review and will continue to monitor developments in the market.”

This was the same response given to a member of parliament who inquired about the government’s position on the issue on behalf of a constituent. “The government response is, unsurprisingly, evasive and appears to be ill-informed on the issue,” Eurogamer opined.

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Nosy Gamer
4 years ago

The white paper from the UKGC did address lockboxes. Eurogamer had a nice writeup on the subject last week. http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2017-10-11-are-loot-boxes-gambling

Sally Bowls
4 years ago

As an aside, coincidentally for those of us skeptical about the tech saviness of government is yesterday’s

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-supreme-court-is-allergic-to-math/

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XanadoX
4 years ago

Some days ago I was thinking about how a good Parliament the Uk has.
Now I am laughing about me.
So we could sum up… nice try.

Goverments will do nothing till they realize the money they are losing in taxes

rafael12104
rafael12104
4 years ago

I’ll informed? You are being kind. I’d say they are shamefully ignorant. You don’t have to be a gamer to read and understand the situation. I bet the Parliamentary Undersecretary didn’t even look into it. After all, it’s just kids and their video games. Nothing serious, am I right?

Shanoobis
4 years ago

Haven’t we all been gambling since childhood anyway ?

carnival-game-clowns.jpg
Bryan Correll
4 years ago
Reply to  Shanoobis

I’ve never had a fear of clowns……until now.

Ukrutor
4 years ago
Reply to  Shanoobis

Now imagine you’d have to play toss-a-ball whenever you wanted to buy something at the convenience store, or whenever you wanted to hire a taxi, or order a meal in a restaurant.

Let’s take the silly metaphor even farther. Imagine you want to buy a can of soda, but hitting a wrong number lands you with a can of surströmming instead. Imagine you want a taxi to take you to local suburb mall, but you hit a wrong number and end up in Siberia (and not even the Californian one). Imagine you want a steak, but you hit a wrong number and they serve you roasted pork brains. That’s how lockboxes work. It’s not even gambling that’s the problem; it’s the fact they’re taking the customer’s right of choice away from you and locking it behind a randomized paywall.

Witches
4 years ago

The wonders of people legislating about things they know absolutely nothing about, this isn’t even a big deal, these same jokers legislate about health and other life threatening issues with the same competence and care shown in this example.

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drgreenhoe
4 years ago

Shakes head. Sounds like a cop out to me.

Aaron Biegalski
4 years ago

This ruling completely and totally misses the actual point. It states only that ‘gambling facilities’ – here defined as any establishment that offers traditional gambling of items with ‘real monetary value’ – require a license. And it further defines that any digital item that is freely available to trade outside of the medium technically has monetary value.

This was a necessary ruling in the CS:GO case, but completely useless here in relation to ‘loot boxes’.

The question at hand is whether the ‘loot box’ itself can be considered a form of gambling. Which, in my opinion, is an inherently insane question. The legal definition of ‘gambling’ is quite clear. (1) You pay real money (2) for a chance (3) of prizes of some nature. The fact that this occurs in a videogame is irrelevant. Pulling the handle on a slot machine is ALWAYS gambling, as long as real money is involved, regardless of the medium or the potential prizes involved.

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BalsBigBrother
4 years ago

Its not a ruling of any sort it is just a press statement and a recycled one at that.

Sally Bowls
4 years ago

I don’t think your #3 is correct. It is prizes that have monetary value. So if I made a slot machine at a dollar a spin that gave you either an “attaboy” cheer or “you lose” raspberry, it is *NOT* gambling. I.e., not all slot machines are gambling under the law. If I gave you a 1 in 38 chance of $.00001 then it is gambling.

Do cosmetics have a monetary value? If no, then not gambling. If yes, then don’t you owe taxes on boss drops?

Dušan Frolkovič
4 years ago
Reply to  Sally Bowls

I would agree that lock-boxes right now do not fill the #3 condition.
As long as you get at least something out of the lock-box it is more of a
(1) pay real money for (2) some stuff with (3) a chance to get something better

which is also probably why CCGs are safe right now, cause you always get something.

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NeoWolf
4 years ago

People thought a government cared about their well being? Aww bless.. thats adorable!

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Armsbend
4 years ago

Read like a form letter.