Nearly a third of the kids surveyed in the UK Gambling Commission’s study admitted to buying lockboxes

    
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The UK Gambling Commission’s Young People & Gambling 2018 report was released this month with disturbing statistics for the role gambling is apparently playing in the lives of British kids, though it’s the references to lootboxes that are primarily of interest to gamers here.

“Overall, based on the description provided, 54% of 11-16 year olds were aware that it is possible to pay money or use in-game items to open loot boxes/crates/packs to get other in-game items within the game you are playing, and 31% had ever used in-game items in this way. Boys (64%) were significantly more likely than girls (43%) to be aware of this type of usage. Somewhat fewer young people (15%) were aware that it is possible to bet with on-game items on websites outside of the game or privately (e.g. with friends), and only 3% claimed to have ever done this. Boys were also significantly more likely than girls to be aware of this way of using ingame items (18% of boys compared to 11% of girls).”

The Commission once again found that a large percentage of gambling activity undertaken by underage kids “takes place in locations that do not require a gambling premises licence”; it’s talking about physical locations, but you can certainly understand why lockbox purveyers seek to avoid that kind of licensing regulation given that knowledge. However, while this year more children said they’d participated in gambling than last year, the researchers surmise that it’s still part of an overall downward trend regarding underage gambling in the UK. Unfortunately, the number of “problem gamblers” among children has quadrupled in the last two years alone.

Worth noting is that the Gambling Commission has rejected media coverage of its research that characterizes lockboxes as being an entry point for future gamblers; while the Commission includes lootbox stats right alongside other gambling activities, it says it didn’t actually attempt to study that link and can’t say there is one based on its work.

“We’ve not in anyway, in the survey, referred to it as exposure to gambling,” the group told GIbiz. “The reason we’ve asked that question is that it’s a very popular subject matter and we want to try and make sure that we have as much information and data around it as possible.”

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kgptzac

Is the title supposed to be read as an alarmist tone, similar to saying if 1/3 of the kids say they have smoked?

11-16 years olds may receive pocket money or even part time job wage. Google Play/iTune gift cards can be purchased with cash in most convenient stores.

If you want to do more of this moral panic, try that 3% number where kids are likely violating various TOS regarding gambling stuff that they shouldn’t.

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Daniel Miller

I don’t get it. As a child I never had access to my parents cc. My parents would disable or not allow me to play something with cc charges in it.

I don’t see this as bad companies but rather bad parenting.

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Utakata

If you like to gamble, I tell you I’m your child,
You win some, lose some, it’s all the same to me,
The pleasure is to play, makes no difference what you say,
I don’t share your greed, the only loot box I need is
The Ace Of Spades…

…err, my apologies to Motörhead. :(

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Roger Melly

Won’t be long before its banned here then , as much as we are screwed by Brexit and total gridlock in our parliament on multiple fronts this is at least something MP’s will get behind .

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Schlag Sweetleaf

.

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BalsBigBrother

Here have some of my level up freebies I don’t bother to open them these days

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Zora

Does that mean that a third of all these kids have access to a credit card unsupervised, which I (naively mayhaps?) assume is necessary to purchase lockboxes?

I mean maybe a kid can buy prepaid cards in physical stores by investing his whole piggybank and I do hope that’s how it happens, because if it’s the other case I see a much worse problem and it’s about very very poor parenting.

If Timmy has access to a credit card and burning a few quids on virtual goodies is the worst that happened, the parents should consider themselves quite lucky :P

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A Dad Supreme

That’s what gets me every time; there is no “cash only” option to purchase a lockbox, lol. You either have to have a credit card or some kind of tie to something like PayPal and even then, you still need a credit card.

Now could children be using gift certificates from the game themselves? Possibly, but again… money is coming from somewhere and I’m betting in 90% of the cases, the parent is funding all of it.

Of course the lockbox situation is predatory, just like everything else in a capitalistic society.. commercials on TV, radio, internet.. it’s all predatory.

I’d like to see the socio-economic breakdowns and I’m betting the majority are middle-class to upper-middle class kids, since their parents usually have the kind of money to let their kid ‘borrow’ one of their many credit cards just for gaming but have no interest in seeing what their kid buys or plays.

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traja

You can also use a debit card. I think you can even directly transfer money to paypal without having either type of card. Haven’t tried that one but seems likely. So maybe the kid only needs a bank account reality? Of course the money still has to come from somewhere.

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Bryan Correll

Meanwhile, at the gaming division of EvilCo:

“31%! Do you morons realize that means 69% HAVEN’T been buying lootboxes?”

“But sir, we have to move carefully. Belgium already…”

“Jenkins, did I ask to hear about a bunch of people who eat waffles and stinky little cabbages?”

“No sir, it’s just….”

“Jenkins, I’m going to have to feed you to the hyenas now.”

“Yes sir. Sorry sir.”

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Danny Smith

Its almost like down to opening animations that show a single frame of the highest rarity to trigger a specific chemical response lockboxes are a predatory practice designed to con the easily influenced, habit forming consumers.

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Sunken Visions

It’s not about ‘chemical responses’, people are just bad at risk assessment. They assume they have a much higher chance of winning than they actually do. They then blame ‘bad luck’ or ‘rigged dice’ when they consistently lose, because people are too arrogant and delusional to admit they made a mistake.

It doesn’t matter at that point though, someone else has your money and other people don’t listen to ‘whiners’ with bad luck.

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Arktouros

Neither of these accurately describe my experiences with lock boxes.

First the only “chemical response” I get is an intense annoyance that rather than just sell a premium item at a premium price they buried it in some lock box. Only feeling I get when I finally do get an item is relief that the miserable experience is actually over.

Second I’m like super aware of the chances of items being in a lock box. If it’s a 1:100 chance that doesn’t mean I buy 100 and I’ll get it. That said sometimes I am willing to still spend depending on how badly I want the item, how satisfied I am with the game, and of course I’m within my entertainment budget.

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Kayweg

Purely anecdotal:
My ex-wife’s 13 year old kid spent over 200 dollars on Fortnite skins, using mom’s Visa card.
Is he an addict or dysfunctional kid? No.
Should his mother have been more careful (and knowledgeable) ? Yes
It doesn’t matter.
The simple fact is that (some) companies consciously, deliberately and systematically prey on exactly this (and similar) section(s) of their player base.
This is intended.
Many countries have legislation to protect vulnerable groups of citizens from exploitation and abuse of various kinds.
I just think it is high time regulating bodies woke up to the dangers imposed by certain business practices in the gaming industry.

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A Dad Supreme

My ex-wife’s 13 year old kid spent over 200 dollars on Fortnite skins, using mom’s Visa card.
Is he an addict or dysfunctional kid? No.
Should his mother have been more careful (and knowledgeable) ? Yes
It doesn’t matter.

It does matter. It’s essentially the problem, at least in this case.
If the kid has no access to the credit card, he cannot purchase anything. Now it does not take away his desire to buy them, but it takes away the ability. As a child, that is the most important part; protecting the child from harmful things… limiting the ability to do harm to themselves.
This is a two-fold problem. It looks as if (by how you describe it) he stole the credit card without her knowledge. Stole. That means that’s a problem right there, he’s stealing.
Second, she is not securing something meant for an adult that can cause financial or legal harm. In this regard, she is as liable as if she left a loaded handgun unlocked and he got a hold of that.
He found the card and “fired the trigger” at the gaming company, I assume against her wishes. This is pure parental failure.
A different argument could be made as to should lockboxes be in games for adults who have problems I guess, but in this case it’s clearly none of that.
She needs not only to secure these cards around the house like any responsible parent would do with anything else that requires adult judgement, but also needs to monitor or educate herself on what game her son is playing and what’s in it.
I’m guessing she does that with the television he watches, the YouTube he watches, the social sites he visits and the music he listens to, so why not video games?

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Kayweg

I cannot disagree with you on pointing out the lack of parental control.
I haven’t discussed this with her in detail, but even she would probably agree with you there.
See, even i remember having nicked a few coins from dad’s purse to buy those all so precious Panini football stickers back in the day.
Yes, it is very much a twofold (or even many-fold) issue.
I can’t claim to have the ultimate solution, i just think throwing the entire and lone responsibility into the parental lap isn’t it.
We’ve all left our purse on the table unattended, haven’t we ? Let’s be real.
And no, that isn’t the gaming industry’s fault either.
What is on them is creating a desire and then make desirable digital items so scarce, or almost unattainable, that the sort of behavior i described spreads.
What i claim, feel free to disagree, is that this is not just a random fallout/side effect of current business models, but that at heart these business models are actually designed to take advantage of this.
Push and create an appetite first, then exploit the needy.
I’m sure that will sounds familiar from somewhere else.
Am i exaggerating ? Yes, probably.
But the similarities are becoming evermore worrying.

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Arktouros

I disagree.

A big shift people haven’t reckoned with or even really discussed is that games have moved to a “premium” style market model. Think of it like going to the movies. One person might go in and just see the movie. Another might go in, buy some popcorn, a drink, and a comfier seat ticket. Similarly someone might just buy the game, and another might buy the game and extras in a cash shop. They don’t do this to stay afloat or prevent developers from starting but because premium services simply make more money. What’s more curious is that people just don’t really recognize or call this out and instead call it greed, or predatory, or otherwise.

Similarly if you hand your kid access to your money and put them in a toy store you probably will end up with some money missing. You can blame the store for “predatory advertising” on “vulnerable groups” like children but lets be real here and recognize where that responsibility is. The adults both control the finances and what activities the children are allowed to take part of.

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A Dad Supreme

Similarly if you hand your kid access to your money and put them in a toy store you probably will end up with some money missing.

Probably but that wasn’t the case described.

It read as a 1) stolen credit card by a minor 2) from the parent who wasn’t paying attention that was then used to purchase cash shop lock boxes. You can’t blame the industry for those two things that then led to the purchase.

Remove either 1 or 2 (or both), and no lock box gets purchased. That doesn’t really have anything to do with what you say above.

Even in that case you mention, “handing” your child money and not watching what they do with it is not being responsible imo. It’s the same as if you plop them in front of a television, let them have access to Netflix, but don’t put any parental controls to restrict the spicey shows that are on there.

I get how today’s parents want to ‘trust’ kids, but they are still kids the same as were around when I was one and that means doing things we can get away with, when parents don’t care or don’t monitor.

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rosieposie

At this point I’d take cure against loot boxes and micro transactions over the cure for cancer.