The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has published its 15th report looking at issued related to “Immersive and addictive technologies”.
A widely reported aspect of this report is the committee’s call to regulate betting in video games that children are being exposed to.
The enquiry found that three quarters of 5-to-15-year-olds play online games with some with some of these “facilitate gambling-like behaviours among players.”
In particular the report focussed on “Loot boxes” and “Skin betting”.
Loot boxes are “items in video games that may be bought for real-world money, but which provide players with a randomised reward of uncertain value.” Those rewards will be virtual items for use in the game, such as tools, outfits and weapons, or characters with particular skills, all of which will be of variable benefit within the game.
Skin betting (or ‘skin gambling’) is the use of virtual items acquired in a game as a method of payment for a stake in external, unlicensed gambling. A recent Gambling Commission survey found that 3% of 11–16 year olds had bet with in-game items on websites outside of video games or privately.
The committee said: “Many games contain features that are highly similar to conventional gambling products, without gambling being the primary aim of the game. However, there are concerns that being exposed to such features from a young age might normalise gambling.”
The Committee has made a number of recommendations including: