Tasmanian Regulator Goes After Video Game Loot Boxes

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Loot boxes in video games are continuing to raise eyebrows in different places across the world with several regulators beginning to take a keen interest in determining whether the controversial practice is indeed akin to gambling. Owing to different definitions of gambling in different jurisdictions, there have been varying opinions on the matter but one thing that remains clear is that the ongoing debate is definitely going to have profound effects in the near future.

The Australian island state of Tasmania is now the latest entrant into the discussion on loot boxes. According to the Tasmania Liquor and Gaming Commission, loot boxes are among the new threats that were spawned by online gambling activities in the country and regulators should, therefore, be very keen with them. In its 2017/2018 report, the commission revealed that the national gaming conference had raised questions pertaining to the link between video games that were predominantly played by local children and loot boxes – as it turns outs, there is gambling embedded in the video games in the form of loot boxes.

If you are not familiar with the term, loot boxes essentially refer to special randomized items found in video games. These randomized items can be purchased for real money and they have the potential of bringing the player some special rewards. In fact, there are some games that keep players from proceeding any further with the game unless they pay for the loot boxes.

With the massive and seemingly ever-increasing popularity of video games and esports, the issue of loot boxes was certainly bound to draw attention as there are an increasing amount of opportunities for unregulated gambling. Coupled with the use of cryptocurrencies, the issue of unregulated gambling is becoming even more of a big deal than it was before.

Possible Cause of Problem Gambling

Many anti-gambling or responsible gambling campaigners and regulatory authorities have expressed concerns that being that there are many video games are accessible to more people including minors who are quite vulnerable and susceptible to gambling-related harm, we could be looking at a problem gambling pandemic in the not so distant future. According to a 2018 Australian study that was commissioned by the Environment and Communications References Committee (ECRE), most problem gamblers spent more money on in-game features like loot boxes that are typically offered by video games.

To curb the problem, the Tasmania Liquor and Gaming Commission has already imposed 34 disciplinary actions on 25 gaming operators and licensed gaming licenses holders. It has also given 176 verbal and written warnings to entities that have breached the law.

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