UK’s Gambling Commission considers prosecuting video game companies that facilitate gambling


It sounds as if the UK is preparing for a bit of a crackdown on video game gambling of the third-party kind. According to a piece in The Guardian this week, the UK’s Gambling Commission believes it’s unable to prosecute gamblebox/lockbox/lootbox games themselves right now, at least until UK law is changed to explicitly recognize those forms of gambling as illegal gambling. But the Commission is turning its gaze on companies whose games encourage – or even just fail to sufficiently discourage – the item- and skin-trading economies that often turn into gambling outfits on third-party websites.

Gamers will remember that Valve specifically provoked the wrath of one state’s gambling authority over CS:GO, which several years back was a hotbed of third-party gambling activity because of its skin trading mechanics. And across the pond, the UK successfully prosecuted a group of FIFA players who used YouTube to run an illegal gambling enterprise through the game – and market it to kids.

Indeed, this latest statement from the UK Gambling Commission explicitly mentions “dialogue” with Valve over CS:GO and appears to include Valve among those companies that have hesitated to take proactive measures against these overtly illegal gambling endeavors, instead waiting for regulators to complain first. Interestingly, the Commission also says EA is one of the companies making efforts toward blocking lockbox gambling – that is, people using lockboxes as gambling currency. (EA runs FIFA).

But EA’s not entirely off the hook – and neither are lockboxes, as during the hearing before MPs, a member of the digital, media, culture and sport select committee linked these types of video game gambling together as a motivating factor for the companies involved:

“If businesses like EA don’t want to encourage gambling, why do they continue to use loot boxes? It seems to me that, bearing in mind children are using these games, that it’s creating an understanding of a process very close to gambling and that concerns me. It seems to me is that it makes money for EA.”

Further reading:

Source: The Guardian. Thanks, Schmidt!

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Bruno Brito

The mess at british politics right now makes the cynic in me say this is all deflection from Brexit talks.


Lol, this doesn’t stand a chance of deflecting attention from Brexit!

Bruno Brito

No it doesn’t, but between Theresa May and Boris Johnson, i don’t think brightness is their forte.


Companies are obeying the letter of the law as they always do. You can change the laws, and they’re just going to perfectly adhere to the letter of those laws. Countries can go after them for letting their goods be tradeable, but this will just cause game companies to remove trading functionality from the game in order to exactingly comply with the laws.

Equally Politicians are going to hedge their bets and say everything is business as usual and no one is breaking any laws, all the meanwhile “expressing concern” at things. Of course never enough concern to ever actually do anything about the problem.

Nothing really surprising here.


If I understood it correctly, while the UK Gambling Commission found that lootboxes themselves can’t be considered gambling under the current UK laws, they do find that when the contents of the lootboxes can be turned into actual money — even if only through third party sites not affiliated with the publisher — the combination of the lootbox mechanic with a way to sell the resulting items can then be considered gambling, and the publishers might even potentially face criminal charges for not doing enough to prevent their lootbox systems from being used to enable or facilitate said gambling.

Also, the Gambling Commission said it had “significant concerns” about lootboxes, and made it clear they are willing and prepared to monitor and regulate lootboxes should the laws be changed to regulate them. Which is meaningful when said in a hearing called by lawmakers who have the power to change those laws and expressed similar concerns.


Watch out once Brexit actually happens (if it does) the politicians will be desperate to distract the populace so expect them to pursue this stuff with gusto.

Danny Smith

*EA looks at FIFA and sweats loudly*


Scary when a place operates upon such a flimsy weak foundation, if only they nurtured the companies they acquired instead of being a dictatorship sucking them dry of all creativity, and talent.