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.”