The House of Lords Calls For "Immediate" Loot Box Regulation

By Alistair Jones on at

The House of Lords has advised the government to "bring loot boxes within the remit of gambling legislation and regulation" without delay. This morning, the House of Lords Select Committee on the Social and Economic impact of the Gambling Industry published a lengthy report including dozens of recommendations aimed to reduce "gambling-related harm".

The impact of loot boxes makes up only one chapter of the report, drawing on evidence from Dr David Zendle, a computer science lecturer at the University of York. Dr Zendle's research suggests that "loot box spending is linked to problem gambling in both adults and adolescents", and that "either loot boxes cause problem gambling, or they exploit problem gambling among gamers to generate profit". As a result, Dr Zendle has called for external regulation of the industry.

As a result of testimony from Dr Zendle and others, the report "recommend[s] that Ministers should make regulations under section 6(6) of the Gambling Act 2005 specifying that loot boxes and any other similar games are games of chance, without waiting for the Government’s wider review of the Gambling Act." That suggestion forms one of the Lords' 'key recommendations' of its report (released in an accompanying statement), which calls on the government to "immediately bring loot boxes within the remit of gambling legislation and regulation."

The report's findings don't force the government's hand at this point, but this is further evidence of mounting political pressure when it comes to loot boxes. The controversy around Star Wars Battlefront II, in particular, helped ignite political interest in loot boxes across the world, and Belgium outlawed several loot box practices in the wake of that particular issue.