Regulators to tackle “blurring of lines” between video games and gambling

Regulators to tackle “blurring of lines” between video games and gambling

Monday, September 17, 2018 Posted by News Team
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Loot boxes and skin betting cited as particular areas of concern

Gaming regulators from European and US jurisdictions have signed an agreement that will see them work together to tackle the dangers posed by gambling-style elements being integrated into console games.

Fifteen European regulatory bodies, alongside the Washington State Gambling Commission, said they were increasingly concerned by the “blurring of lines” between gambling and other forms of digital entertainment. 

The regulators cited elements such as loot boxes, where players purchase a random selection of digital items, skin betting, where digital goods are used as betting collateral, and social casino gaming as areas of particular concern. They also said said that gambling-themed content was  increasingly being made available to minors within video games. 

Such emerging products and services were increasingly similar to those that prompted each jurisdiction to regulate online gaming, they said. 

While they did not go as far as to say they would work to introduce licensing systems for video gaming, the regulators pledged to work together to analyse the characteristics of video games and social gaming and idenitfy harm prevention measures. They also aim to enter into a dialogue with the video games and social gaming sectors, ensuring that each industry complies with relevant laws in every market. 

The regulatory bodies will also engage their country’s consumer protection enforcement authorities in the project, and all reserve the right to launch enforcement action against companies that breach gambling regulations. 

“We have joined forces to call on video games companies to address the clear public concern around the risks gambling and some video games can pose to children,” UK Gambling Commission chief executive and one of the collaboration agreement’s signatories Neil McArthur said. “We encourage video games companies to work with their gambling regulators and take action now to address those concerns to make sure that consumers, and particularly children, are protected.

“We want parents to be aware of the risks and to talk to their children about how to stay safe online,” McArthur explained. “For example, unlicensed websites offering skins betting can pop up at any time and children could be gambling with money intended for computer game products.” 

Alongside the UK Gambling Commission and Washington State Gambling Commission, 14 other European regulators are to work on the project. These include the Latvian Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection, the Czech Ministry of Finance, Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission, France’s ARJEL, Spain’s DGOJ, and the Malta Gaming Authority. 

The Austrian Ministry of Finance, Jersey Gambling Commission, Government of Gibraltar, Irish Department of Justice and Equality, Norwegian Gaming Authority, Netherlands’ Kansspelautoriteit, Polish Ministry of Finance and Portuguese regulator Turismo de Portugal will also take part.

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