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Britain and France contribute to the loot box debate

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Tim Miller, Gambling Commission Executive Director, explained Britain's stance on loot boxes and gambling. French senator Jérôme Durain wrote to President Macron saying that loot boxes require attention from the public authorities.

Britain and France are the latest countries to join the "loot boxes are gambling - what can we do about it" movement. The State of Hawaii, Belgium and Australia are already looking into the issue.

An official statement came out of the British Gambling Commission saying that "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."

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Tim Miller, Gambling Commission Executive Director, explained the matter further: "We are concerned with the growth in examples where the line between video gaming and gambling is becoming increasingly blurred. Where it does meet the definition of gambling it is our job to ensure that children are protected and we have lots of rules in place, like age verification requirements, to do that."

Loot boxes may or may not be categorised as gambling by the law itself, but if they pose a threat to children and young people, the parents will always be the first line of defence. 

Tim Miller's statement can be found here

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Also diving into the debate is French senator Jérôme Durain. Senator voiced his concerns in a letter to President Macron, saying that "today, loot boxes seem to [him] to require special attention from the public authorities."

My French is quite rusty so I will refer you to a Reddit user named Artfunkel, who went through the trouble of translating the letter. In the letter, Durian did not express the need for a specific specific legislation, but he did "wonder about the desirability of providing consumer protection in this area. The use of loot boxes conferring cosmetic additions to the games seems well-accepted by the public."

Senator added that "the development of so-called pay-to-win practices is more contentious, as shown by the recent controversy over the game Star Wars Battlefront 2. Quite aside from the acceptance of the practice, some observers point to a convergence of the video game world and practices specific to gambling."

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Durain noted that the problem is not unique to France as their neighbours - the United Kingdom and Belgium in particular are looking into the matter through their own regulatory authorities. 

The letter in full: