Australian Legislator Wants To Ban Loot Boxes For Minors
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The fight to regulate loot boxes in games is still ongoing throughout the world, and one of the latest people to jump in is an Australian member of Parliament. Andrew Wilkie, an MP from Tasmania in the lower house of the Australian legislature, is planning on introducing a bill to ban loot boxes for minors.
First reported by the Daily Telegraph and then by Kotaku, Wilkie has said that loot boxes should be considered gambling and thus the country needs to prohibit companies from targeting kids with them. While the bill’s text hasn’t been shared yet, Wilkie suggests that the legislation will use the Australian games rating system to regulate loot boxes.
In essence, the bill would force any game featuring loot boxes to be automatically rated R18+ (the equivalent of Mature in the United States). However, unlike the ESRB ratings in the U.S., the Australian ratings board is a government agency backed by law. An R18+ game cannot legally be sold to or bought by minors, which is how Wilkie’s bill would be enforced. In comments to the Daily Telegraph, Wilkie explained that he viewed the possibility of “grooming” children for gambling as sufficiently important to require legislation.
“It’s not clear if that’s what game companies design but it’s self-evident that they have that effect,” he argued. “To allow very young children to pay cash for a randomized event that may or may not reward them, that would meet any definition of gambling.”
As it’s in its very earliest days, there is no sign yet if Wilkie’s bill will garner widespread support in Australia’s Parliament. What is clear, though, is that there is increasing attention in many governing bodies toward loot boxes throughout the world. In addition to Australia, Brazil has just recently begun an inquiry into whether or not a prohibition on loot boxes is warranted, while some countries like Belgium have already banned them.