On October 6, Daniel Zeichner, the Labour MP for Cambridge, submitted two questions to Parliament. This followed a meeting with one of his constituents, who’d asked the MP ‘whether gambling laws should apply to loot boxes in games’, and also, ‘what steps were being taken to protect vulnerable adults and children from illegal gambling in video games?’
These questions have now been answered by Tracey Crouch, who’s the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Crouch responded to both questions with exactly the same answer, saying that, ‘where items obtained in a computer game can be traded or exchanged outside the game platform they acquire a monetary value, and where facilities for gambling with such items are offered to consumers located in Britain a Gambling Commission licence is required. If no licence is held, the Commission uses a wide range of regulatory powers to take action.’
Crouch continued by stating that, ‘earlier this year the Gambling Commission successfully prosecuted the operators of a website providing illegal gambling facilities for in-game items which was accessible to children - the first regulator in the world to bring such an action.’ This is likely in reference to the prosecution of FIFA Ultimate Team YouTubers, Craig ‘NepentheZ’ Douglas and Dylan Rigby, earlier this year.
In closing, Crouch said that, ‘the government recognise the risks that come from increasing convergence between gambling and computer games. The Gambling Commission is keeping this matter under review and will continue to monitor developments in the market.’
The response is certainly non-committal, but then again what did you really expect? The UK Government doesn’t seem overly concerned at this moment in time, and it noted that it considers this to be a matter for the Gambling Commission. That’s if it should come to that.