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There's a blurry line between what people consider to be loot box spending and gambling. In fact, the line is so blurry that even the U.K. Gambling Commission has a hard time navigating that line. Nevertheless, the regulatory body decided to offer a word on where it stands when it comes to premium loot boxes. While they do blur the line, they're not gambling.
Over on the official Gambling Commission website, executive director Tim Miller explained...
A key factor in deciding if that line has been crossed is whether in-game items acquired 'via a game of chance' can be considered money or money's worth. In practical terms this means that where in-game items obtained via loot boxes are confined for use within the game and cannot be cashed out it is unlikely to be caught as a licensable gambling activity. In those cases our legal powers would not allow us to step in.
The post basically breaks down and explains that the U.K. Gambling Commission can only truly step in when legitimate gambling is taking place. In this case, there's no actual cash-out of physical or digital monies when purchasing loot boxes, so the game of chance is solely on the user spending money to acquire in-game items.
Due to this, the U.K. Gambling Commission would have to defer the issue to Parliament and allow the powers that be to decide what to do with loot boxes since it's technically not licensed gambling, according to the standards set within the U.K.
This doesn't mean that the issue is dead or buried, just that right now the U.K. Gambling Commission's hands are tied after reviewing the situation.
The regulatory body was actually one of the first brought in to investigate premium loot boxes well before Star Wars: Battlefront II even launched. The organization had mentioned that it would be keeping an eye on the situation and reviewing the matter before making any public statements. Well, after reviewing the situation the statements are now public.
However, after the findings, it appears as if U.K., residents will need to inform MPs about the matter to get some sort of legislation on the docket.
Now, not everyone agrees with the U.K. Gambling Commission's assessment of premium loot boxes not being gambling. Some lawmakers have already taken steps to start getting legislation underway to address the issue. In Hawaii, specifically, representatives want to curb the predatory use of premium loot boxes in AAA games, especially after several recently released blockbuster games have been utilizing premium loot boxes, such as Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, Forza Motorsport 7 and _Need for Speed: Payback. _
Belgium's gaming commission, the gambling commission in the state of Victoria in Australia, and the French consumer advocacy group known as the UFC-Que Choisir, have also all come down on premium loot boxes.
Given how hazy the whole monetary system is, it's not something that can be fined like a regular casino, lottery, or betting organization. So, as the U.K. Gambling Commission mentioned, this will require some legislative muscle or at least some intervention from lawmakers before any sort of prohibitory measures can be put into place against premium loot boxes in full priced games.