Gambling companies have in recent years always found new ways to generate additional revenue from gamers, and now they have turned to videogames.
The latest trend in the industry is the inclusion of so-called "outer boxes" in games that encourage players to pay a sum of money for the potential to get a rare or limited edition add-on for the game.
There is also a practice known as "skins betting" where players gamble virtual items for the chance to win money through non-regulated websites.
Regulators around the world are assessing how the phenomenon needs to be tackled, because many see gambling as a prelude to gambling by exposing children at such a young age. Gaming companies say that the practice does not amount to gambling as such.
In the UK and the EU
The UK Gambling Commission is one of fifteen authorities around the world that have united in a search for integrated gambling in games that are open to young people.
The group intends to lobby its local jurisdiction to introduce rules to limit the potential damage that can be caused by outer boxes and betting on the skin.
They will also appeal to their local authorities for consumer protection enforcement to take action against companies that are in conflict with gambling rules.
Neil McArthur, the chief executive of the UK Gambling Commission, said in a statement: "We have joined forces to engage video game companies to address the obvious public concerns about the risk of gambling, and some video games may yield children.
"We encourage video game companies to work with gambling regulators and take action to address these issues to ensure that consumers, especially children, are protected." We want parents to be aware of the risk & # 39; s and their children talk about how they can stay safe online. "
The Gambling Commission last year demonstrated evidence of a UK survey showing that 11% of children aged 11 to 16 participated in betting on skins on non-regulated websites.
McArthur explained: "Unlicensed websites offering skins can appear at any time and children can gamble with money intended for computer game products."
Belgium is cracking down on video games
Opinions differ throughout the world. In Belgium, the Belgian Gaming Commission (BGC) has suggested that Electronic Arts, Valve and Activision Blizzard should be prosecuted for offering outer boxes in their respective games.
In his recent research report on loot boxes, the BGC has outlined what it believes that gambling is and is not, and how popular games such as FIFA 18, Counterstrike: Global Offensive and Overwatch are in violation of the legislation.
The report contains recommendations for the next steps to be taken to manage the problem, from deleting items to prosecution.
Because Electronic Arts must not yet remove returned items from games that are used in Belgium, there is a risk that a lawsuit against the company will be filed.
It is hoped that by joining forces, the countries that tackle this problem, including the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Portugal, can put together a more standardized approach.
American regulators also alarmed
In Minnesota, a bill was submitted Monday to ban the sale of video games with outer boxes under the age of 18. The bill would also force a warning label for such games that would read: "This game contains a gambling mechanism that can promote the development of a gambling addiction that increases the risk of damaging mental or physical health effects and exposes the user to significant financial risk. s. "
Other states, including California, Hawaii, Indiana and the state of Washington, have all expressed concern about the practice, which generates large revenues for developers. Activision Blizzard, for example, generated $ 4 billion in its portfolio of games in 2017, including Candy Crush, Call of Duty and Hearthstone – all of these offer boot boxes.
In response to the claims that outer boxes should be regarded as gambling, Dan Hewitt, VP of media relations at Entertainment Software Association, said that he did not see outer box as gambling because they offer an alternative experience and players are not required to buy them.