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The British Parliament is examining the loot-box model in video games


Loot boxes in video games like Forza Motorsport 7 and Middle-earth: Shadow of War are raising a debate about business models in the gaming community, and some people are now trying to get their governments to do something about it. That has led Daniel Zeichner, a member of the British Parliament from Cambridge, to pose two questions asking what Secretary of State for digital, culture, media, and sport Karen Bradley will do to protect people from loot boxes.

Both of Zeichner’s questions are online, and they come as the result of a conversation with concerned gamers. The first question asks what steps Bradley plans to take to “help protect vulnerable adults and children from illegal gambling, in-game gambling, and loot boxes within computer games.” The second question asks what the British government has determined about special rules on the Isle of Man that determine in-game items as having real-world value.

GamesBeat has reached out to Zeichner for comment on this, and I’ll update this post with any statement from the MP.

In a post on Reddit, user Artfunkel says that they met with Zeichner, who is their MP, to encourage the politician to bring up these questions.

“These are a result of a very positive meeting I had with Daniel a few weeks ago,” Artfunkel said. “The goal here is to see the United Kingdom’s existing gambling regulations applied to loot boxes.”

The U.K. would have to define loot boxes as gambling first before it could apply any existing laws. And that process would depend greatly on what kind of gambling the government considers loot boxes. For example, the government doesn’t treat slot machines and those grocery store gachapon toy dispensers the same way.

But any response like that is still a long ways off. It likely takes about a month for Bradley to respond to a written question. Even when she does, she doesn’t have to commit to anything. But it’s clear that the noise around loot boxes is starting to fuel some curiosity from people in positions of power, and that could lead to new regulations the video game industry.

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