Regulate MMOGs (using loot box mechanics) as gambling and rate World of Warships as R18+

Regulate MMOGs (using loot box mechanics) as gambling and rate World of Warships as R18+

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1AN Clan started this petition to Paul Fletcher MP (The Australian Federal Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts) and

TO: The Australian Federal Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, Paul Fletcher MP 

AND TO: Classification Review Board, Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

AND TO: The Manager, Interactive Gambling Team, Australian Communications and Media Authority

AND TO: Julie Inman Grant, eSafety Commissioner, eSafety Australia 

We the undersigned hereby PETITION you to do all within your respective powers to:

  1. change the classification rating of World of Warships ("WOWS"), a massively multiplayer online game (“MMOG”) published by Wargaming Group Limited of 105, Agion Omologiton Avenue, Nicosia 1080, Cyprus ("WG"), from PG to R18+; and
  2. require WG to publish contemporaneous information about the odds which apply to an ingame container in WOWS, at the time the user is deciding whether or not to purchase the ingame container; and
  3. enforce the Interactiive Gambling Act in relation to  MMOGs which use a “loot box” mechanic that does not guarantee a return equal to the money spent on the loot box aka "container", including WOWS; and
  4. if required, introduce regulations (or if required, legislation into the Australian Parliament) which, if passed, would regulate MMOGs which use such a “loot box” mechanic, including WOWS, in the same way as any other online gambling service available to Australian consumers


WOWS is a "free to play" game, which does not require users to spend money; but WG has a reasonable and very strong commercial interest in converting players from "free to play"  users (who spend no money on WOWS)   into "paying" users (who do spend money on WOWS); and WG in fact very strongly encourages users to spend money on WOWS

WOWS is a game which is constantly  being developed, and updated with new content 

For some years, WOWS has used a "loot box" mechanic, which provides  free "containers" (aka "loot boxes") to users 

There is considerable evidence now available around the world, which proves that using a "loot box" mechanic is equivalent to gambling in other contexts  (such as at casinos or racetracks), and that the mechanic "normalises" gambling for many users, by getting them used to receiving benefits from ingame containers (by whatever name). The UK, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and many other countries have either regulated MMOGs which use a “loot box” mechanic, or are investigating regulation for such games (see Footnote 1)

We did not object to WG using a loot box mechanic, when the containers were provided free to users of the game

But over the past couple of years,  and increasingly in the past few months, WG has increasingly been implementing containers in  WOWS which are not free; and WG does not publish any (or at least, any reliable and/or auditable) information about the odds a user receives when they purchase a container from WG

Users are being encouraged further by WG's very active and well-funded sales  and marketing department, both inside and outside the game of WOWS, to spend money on ingame currencies/resources, so that the users can purchase ingame containers. These containers give a user a chance to receive some ingame benefit (for example, a ship, special captain or camouflage for a ship) when the container is opened.

WG is increasingly using manipulative and/or predatory sales tactics by not offering the odds of success to all users, and have not been forthcoming with such information to date, whilst selling users a product which offers literally nothing more than a chance for the user to receive an ingame benefit, without the user knowing the odds of success. In other words, WG is very actively encouraging each user to gamble that the user will have a lucky outcome and receive the ingame benefit they want,  if they buy and open a container; but at the same time WG is actively hiding the chances of the user being successful

We are concerned that children are encouraged to play WOWS, and, although the average age of  WOWS players is likely over 18, there are many WOWS users who are less than 18 years of age

The Netherlands has spent considerable resources looking at the loot box mechanic, and has identified the following “Risks of loot boxes for the player” (see Footnote 2):

  1. No age control
  2. No consumer protection
  3. Unfair game
  4. Loss of money
  5. Participation in prohibited games of chance
  6. Gambling addiction

We consider that R18+ is the most appropriate Classification Rating currently available for WOWS, since:

1. the money spent on these containers by WOWS players is significant - some players spend thousands of dollars each year

2. by doing so, these players are gambling on a 'lucky' outcome from opening the containers that they have bought

3. gambling is an activity which is rightly restricted in Australia to people aged 18 or more; as well as being lawful only in very limited circumstances, which are regulated by  appropriate authorities,  who have imposed requirements on the providers of these gambling services which are intended to minimise the harm that gambling can cause to  "problem" gamblers, their families and others

4. a minor is more likely to be swayed into gambling than an adult, even more so when the purveyor of the gambling service uses all their considerable powers of suasion, and very considerable expertise in consumer behaviours, to achieve that outcome

5. there is no protection for "problem" gamblers in WOWS

6. it appears that the chance, that any particular container WILL provide a user with the 'lucky' outcome that they desire when they buy the container, is extremely low in all cases

7. no user is able to calculate the chance  that any particular container WILL provide a user with the 'lucky' outcome that they desire when they buy the container

8. WG does not (and appears to not be under any obligation to) publish the chance that any container will provide any benefit to the user who opens the container

9. it is beyond dispute that WG has a strong commercial interest in not revealing the odds that any container will provide a user with the desired outcome, if they purchase the container

10. On 28 April 2016, the Australian Government announced its response to the recommendations of the 2015 Review of Illegal Offshore Wagering, and supported 18 of the 19 recommendations, leading to legislative changes and: (a) the establishment of a National Consumer Protection Framework (National Framework) for online wagering, was announced on 30 November 2018; (b)  amending the law to make it clear that it is illegal for unlicensed overseas gambling companies to offer gambling products to Australians (the Australian Communications and Media Authority is empowered to have stronger enforcement mechanisms, enacted in the Interactive Gambling Amendment Act 2017); (c) Investigating the feasibility of other disruptions measures to curb illegal offshore gambling activity. The Government is implementing a website blocking scheme to protect Australians from illegal offshore gambling websites, as announced by the Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts on 11 November 2019, and the Australian Government has announced that the Australian Communications and Media Authority will use its powers to work in cooperation with Australian internet service providers to block illegal offshore gambling websites which are prohibited services under the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (see Footnote 4).  

11. loot boxes in MMOGs, at least those which do not guaranteet to provide the same return as they require to purchase (ie $X value provided in a loot box for $X spent on the loot box), are clearly a form of interactive, online gambling, and should be regulated as such

In additon to the principal requests above, we therefore request that you do all within your power to ensure that WG be required to publish prominent notices to all users, inside the game and on their game website, which make clear the odds that apply to any "container" - and that this notice appear to the user at the time a container is offered  to a player for purchase.


  1. Regulation of loot box mechanics as gambling:
    European Union: On 17 September  2018 the gaming regulators of 16 European countries (Latvia, Czech Republic, Isle of Man, France, Spain, Malta, Jersey, Gibraltar, Ireland, Portugal, Norway, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Poland, Austria and the State of Wahington) signed a statement to express their concerns about the risks of the blurry lines between digital entertainment, such as video games and games of chance. These Regulators, all members of the European umbrella organization GREF, see gambling characteristics in some new gaming products, and want to continue to analyze the video games and social gaming in depth, while also asking for a constructive dialogue with the responsible representatives of the video games and social gaming industry: see 
    Denmark: consumers may report complaints about MMOGs to the Gaming Authority: see
    Germany: in April 2021 Germany revised its youth protection laws (State Treaty on Youth Media Protection) to deal with online gambling and loot boxes. Consumers may lodge complaints about MMOGs and loot boxes with German Authorities here: 
    Netherlands: prior to 2018, the Gaming Authority received reports from gamers, parents and healthcare institutions about the addictive effect of loot boxes. in April 2018 research by the Gaming Authority showed that some loot boxes were in violation of the Gaming Act, and the Gaming Authority called on providers to make adjustments. Consumers may report issues with games to the Gaming Authority:  see In  October 2019,  the Gaming Authority imposed a cease and desist order for loot boxes in the game “Fifa” published by Electronic Arts Inc. and Electronic Arts Swiss Sàrl, with a maximum of 5 million euros for violating the law on games of chance with 'Packs' in the game Fifa. The decision was upheld on appeal on 29 October 2020 by The  District Court of The Hague: see   
    United KIngdom: In July 2020 a House of Lords Committee highlighted evidence that loot boxes cause gambling problems or exploit problem gambling, and called for the Government to extend gambling legislation to cover loot boxes. In September 2020 the Government called for evidence. See a petition to the UK Government to extend the Gambling Act to Loot boxes here:;  
  2. Netherlands Gaming Authority identifies risks to players from loot boxes:  see 
  3. Australian Gambling Reseach Centre, "Gambling in Australia during COVID-19" (Jenkinson, Sakata, Khokhar, Tajin and Jatkar):
  4. See Department of Social Services web site:
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