Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

MPs urged to ban gaming loot boxes for children

Loot boxes – the controversial quasi-gambling element in games such as FIFA and Overwatch where players can pay for the chance to win rare items – have taken another hit. They may already be on life support after the major publishers agreed to publish odds by the end of next year, and now MPs want to limit their reach even further.

A report published by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) recommends that loot crates should be regulated under the Gambling Act. And treating them as gambling would also involve an outright ban on sale to children.

Loot boxes are particularly lucrative for games companies but come at a high cost, particularly for problem gamblers, while exposing children to potential harm,” wrote chairman Damian Collins MP in the report. “Buying a loot box is playing a game of chance and it is high time the gambling laws caught up. We challenge the government to explain why loot boxes should be exempt from the Gambling Act.”

Related: Best PS4 games

The report states that loot boxes “were found to be integral to major games companies’ revenues,” and added that these profits were facilitated via “problem gamblers.” Evidence to the committee included one testimony about a gamer spending over £1000 per year on FIFA Ultimate Team packs, while another person stated that their adult son had racked up over £50,000 in debt on RuneScape.

“It is unacceptable that some companies with millions of users and children among them should be so ill-equipped to talk to us about the potential harm of their products,” Mr Collins added.

Related: Best Xbox One games

The recommendation of the report is that loot boxes with an element of chance shouldn’t be sold to children, and rather earned through in-game credits. If the government accepts the recommendation, a change in the law would be required to extend the current definition of gambling beyond cash prizes.

Do you agree that loot boxes should be treated as gambling? Let us know what you think on Twitter: @TrustedReviews.

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2004, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have 9 million users a month around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.