EPIC call for ‘loot box’ sales ban for under 18s and better education for parents

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EPIC Risk Management is calling for a ban on the sale of video game ‘loot box’ products to under 18s and improved education for their parents and guardians on what the concept entails, following the eye-opening results of a survey on gaming habits among UK school children.

Our research suggests that as many as 30% of children are participating in gambling-related practices such as loot box purchases or skin betting, based on a survey involving 1,793 children from 31 schools within the UK, which you can download and read in full here.

A convergence between video games and gambling became apparent, with 19% of children reporting that they had gambled within the past 12 months. Within that group, 5% would be classed as being ‘at risk’ of developing a gambling problem, while 3% can already be classified as suffering from gambling problems, with 55% and 88% respectively within those two groups saying that loot boxes or skins betting formed part of their gambling experience.

As a result, EPIC are now calling for two key changes to be made within this hugely popular form of entertainment:

  • A ban on any further sales of loot box sales to children, following the direction of nearby countries such as the Netherlands and Belgium where virtually all loot box products are prohibited;

  • Increased education to be made widely available to parents and guardians, to help them understand the gambling-related products that sit within a number of video games.

The House of Lords Gambling Committee has already called for a ban on such products, back in July 2020, whilst in the past month, it has been reported in UK media outlets that some ministers are believed to have called upon the game developers to self-regulate loot box sales to minors, in order to pre-empt the need for an outright ban to be imposed.

Jonathan Peniket, EPIC Risk Management’s gaming and eSports consultant, is well versed with the risks of loot box products, having lost £3,000 during his teenage years trying to secure elusive players for his team via the FIFA football simulation game’s ‘Player Packs’ option within the Ultimate Team feature, as well as devoting the majority of time that he should have spent on A-Level revision on what he describes as a self-confessed addiction.

He has recently spoken at House of Lords round table discussions on the future of loot boxes and is adamant that the time for action has come, explaining:

“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.”