The UK Gambling Commission has disclosed to MPs that it doesn’t at present administer any purchases related to the content in popular console games like Fifa, or the players’ investments into game items such as skins and loot boxes.

Allegedly this is due to commission not being able to regulate or use any official methods of being able to monetize what is inside of them. A prize must be either cash or have fiscal incentive attached to it in order for it to be regulated by gambling legislation. In any case, there are unapproved outsider destinations which purchase and sell in-game items, which then enables these parties to utilize them as “virtual money”.

Brad Enright, the commission’s program director, confirmed that the publisher behind EA, which is also a distributor of the game Fifa, is said to be facing an ongoing dispute with these third parties who are unlawfully selling the game. “There is unquestionably a demand for a secondary market,” he said.

Players Oblivious to What They Will Receive

In Fifa, players can be purchase packs but they will only find out what’s inside of them after the purchase has gone through. This also applies to loot boxes, which usually contain some kind of reward such as weapons or character skins.

Outraged parents have told news sources like the BBC that their kids are burning through several pounds on in-game buys, and have deemed the trading action as a type of betting. This is because there is a component of chance in the result, and their youngsters are then enticed to purchase again as to attempt to get the outcome they desire.

Talking at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport committee, Gambling Commission CEO Neil McArthur conceded that there were “significant concerns” around kids playing computer games. Particularly when there are monetary transactions that are based on elements of chance and random outcomes. In any case, he concluded that under current regulations for gaming, these kind of games do not constitute gambling.

“There are other examples of things that look and feel like gambling that legislation tells you are not – [such as] some prize competitions but because they have free play or free entry they are not gambling… but they are a lot like a lottery,” he said. Belgium is one of the countries which prohibited loot boxes in light of the fact that they were violating its betting legislation.
In spite of loot box prizes having no value-based worth, there are outsider sites which empower individuals to bet the virtual goods they procure in games; for example, character skins or weapons on casino-style slot machines, offering them the opportunity to create genuine cash. This is known as “skin gambling” and has been associated with being naturally addictive.

“We have said [to the video games industry], ‘it’s not enough to say we don’t want this happening’,” said Brad Enright. He also said that the terms of these games actually prohibit this act, despite their inability to actually control it. “We’ve been robust and said, ‘we can see you have T&Cs, what are you doing to apply them?'”

Valve and Rockstar Games

Mr. Enright said the computer game which creates the most concern regarding the act of skin wagering is Counterstrike: Global Offensive, made by U.S. game producer Valve.

“Where we have drawn their attention to British consumers, including children, taking part in gambling, they have closed [skin betting sites] down,” he said. In any case, he included that it was not up to the Gambling Commission to screen the web for the benefit of the computer games industry. “We figure Valve in the U.S. should do more,” he added.
The committee hearing occurred the day preceding Rockstar Games’ latest and highly-anticipated release of the new Grand Theft Auto V, which incorporates an in-game casino. The game dynamics and what players can expect have not been vague at this point. However, the Diamond Resort club site indicates that in-game chips will be the currency used, though it is not yet known if they will be gained through buying, game play, or a mixture of both.

The DCMS Select Committee is at present looking into the repercussions behind addictive gaming innovations.


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Jean Carter is from Oakland, California and studied jewelry design at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco, California. After graduation, and pining for a warmer climate, Jean relocated to the Tule Springs suburb of Las Vegas, where she owns and operates her own online jewelry boutique incorporating traditional native American styles with her own unique designs. A true fan of the sophistication and glamor of Las Vegas casino life, Jean is also a freelance blogger specializing in all things suave and fashionable surrounding the casino lifestyle.