Loot boxes: Children's Commissioner calls for in-game purchases to be classed as gambling

Youngsters are spending hundreds of pounds “chasing their losses” on online video game purchases which offer unknown rewards, according to the children’s commissioner for England.

Tuesday, 22nd October 2019, 4:06 pm
Anne Longfield, the Children's Commissioner for England, has called for a crackdown on video game "loot boxes"

So-called “loot boxes”, in which gamers buy a random selection of items, should be classified as a form of gambling, according to Anne Longfield (pictured).

She has raised concerns that young people are being left open to exploitation by gaming companies that encourage them to spend money by preying on their need to keep up with friends and make further progress in a game.

Her comments came as she published a report which looks at the experiences of children who play online games.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Ms Longfield said: “Children have told us they worry they are gambling when they buy loot boxes, and it’s clear some children are spending hundreds of pounds chasing their losses.

“I want the Government to classify loot boxes in games like FIFA as a form of gambling. A maximum daily spend limit for children would also be reassuring for parents and children themselves.

“With 93 per cent of children in the UK playing video games, it is vital that the enjoyment they get comes with tighter rules that protect them from straying into gambling.

“Playing games online can be rewarding and exciting and help children to develop strategic skills and friendships, but they are also open to exploitation by games companies.”

The contents of the box are typically not known until it is bought, and the player opens it.