EPIC Risk Management has called on the government to ban the sale of video game ‘loot box’ products to under 18s and ensure better education for parents.
Such a ruling would follow the direction of European countries like the Netherlands and Belgium, where virtually all loot box products are prohibited.
The House of Lords Gambling Committee suggested similar measures in July 2020 while in the past month it has been reported that some ministers have called upon the game developers themselves to self-regulate loot box sales to minors.
Jonathan Peniket, EPIC Risk Management’s gaming and esports consultant, has recently spoken at House of Lords round table discussions and is demanding action.
Peniket, who lost £3,000 on ‘player packs’ as a self-confessed FIFA Ultimate Team addict during his teenage years, said: “The survey results are extremely concerning; they suggest once again that the true scale of the issue of loot box gambling is terrifying.
“It is disappointing that we are still yet to hear any response to the government’s call for evidence on the issue which closed some 16 months ago now.
“Loot boxes continue to create awful situations in people’s lives and their regulation in the UK, as seen in other European countries, is critical.”
According to EPIC’s ‘eye-opening’ research, based on a survey involving 1,793 children from 31 UK schools, up to 30% of children are participating in gambling-related practices or skin betting.
This has been particularly apparent in video games, with 19% of children reporting that they had gambled within the past 13 months.
Furthermore, 5% of the group would be classed as being ‘at risk’ of developing a gambling problem, while 3% can already be classified as having one. 55% and 88% respectively within those two groups said that loot boxes or skins betting formed part of their gambling experience.
“Things like age verification systems should definitely be introduced in any sort of games, so kids under the age of 18 can’t spend money on stuff like that,” said Anca-Maria Gherghel, EPIC’s Research Coordinator, speaking in a video posted on the company’s Twitter account.
Gherghel added: “Teachers and parents should definitely be educated on any sort of harm related to loot boxes and in-game items.”