As gambling continues to expand worldwide, responsible gambling advocates are seeking to make gaming safer for children. The line between gambling and gaming can quickly start to blur for youth, so groups are working to push for gaming regulations.
Before You Bet has a past blog post on gambling regulations that could impact the United Kingdom (U.K.). But a more recent potential regulation for the country has to do with loot boxes. Loot boxes are a gaming feature that gives users a chance to win in-game prizes that enhance their play. The highs and lows that players experience after opening a box can lead them to chase their losses, which is a common behavior associated with problem gambling.
In an effort to decrease the risk of developing problem gambling behaviors for youth, EPIC Risk Management, independent gambling harm consultants, is calling on U.K. officials to restrict the selling of loot boxes to those under 18. The group cited concerns from a survey they conducted recently.
A recent survey conducted with nearly 2,000 children across 31 U.K. schools by EPIC Risk Management found that:
- 30% of participants participated in skin or loot box purchases.
- 19% of participants gambled within the past 12 months.
- Of that group, 3% can be considered as having developed a problem with gambling.
- 5% are potentially at-risk of developing a problem with gambling.
From these results, the group felt it necessary to ask the country’s officials to regulate the activity for minors, whose brains are still rapidly evolving and can be at-risk of developing mental health problems like anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
“The survey results are extremely concerning,” said EPIC’s gaming and eSports consultant Jonathan Peniket. “They suggest once again that the true scale of the issue of loot box gambling is terrifying.”
Banning the sales of loot boxes to minors is not unprecedented. The Netherlands and Belgium are two countries to have recently penned this regulation into law. Whether the same happens in the U.K. – or the U.S., for that matter – remains to be seen.
But Change the Game Ohio can help. It provides a wide range of tools and resources, including time management tips for children and discussion guides that can equip parents, caregivers, and educators on how to talk to a child about responsible gaming and the potential risks of youth gambling. To access these resources and more, visit ChangeTheGameOhio.org.