The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) charity has published a report urging the UK government to legislate loot boxes in video games as forms of gambling.
Based on research in collaboration with GambleAware, the 'Skins in the Game' documents state that 58 per cent of young people in the country see purchasing a loot box as a form of highly addictive gambling. Furthermore, 60 per cent believe skin betting should fall under the same gambling laws.
According to the report, two in five young people purchase loot boxes, with the global market for the mechanic estimated to be worth £20 billion ($25.8 billion). 55 per cent of those surveyed believe that playing a mobile or video game could lead to gambling.
RSPH is calling on the UK government for:
- The games industry to ensure gamble-free video and mobile games for players under the age of 18 to follow a set of criteria, as well as the implementation of technology to spot "disordered spending" on loot boxes and other gambling-like content in games
- A broader definition of gambling to be introduced into the Health Education Curriculum and for more awareness at primary schools
- An education programme to increase education to help parents, carers and teachers in the subject and the harm surrounding gambling
- Gambling harms to be recognised in mental health support teams across schools and colleges in the UK
Public health issue
"Young people have told us that gambling and gambling-like activity are slowly but surely polluting hobbies and past-times that have traditionally been beneficial to their wellbeing," said RSPH chief executive Shirley Cramer CBE.
"As with any public health issue, this is one that requires a combination of measures focusing on both education and regulation. Young people are not universally opposed to gambling and gambling-like activity; they simply want to be able to recognise where it appears in their lives and to make an informed decision as to whether to avoid it altogether, or to participate in a way that lowers the stakes for their health and wellbeing."
The survey interviewed over 1,000 young people living in the UK, between the ages of 11 and 24. You can read the full Skins in the Game report here.
In September, The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee recommended the UK Parliament to regulate loot boxes as gambling, with children seen most at risk.