Removal of loot boxes in gaming

Removal of loot boxes in gaming

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David Varga started this petition to Tony Zappia
Loot boxes have been introduced into the gaming industry as a method for generating revenue. They are now being designed to target gambling impulses and permeating into games which are targeted at children. Studies are evolving on the topic of potential links to increases in youth gambling as a possible result of loot boxes and the growing body of evidence paints a damning picture.

Steps should be taken to minimise the predatory nature of these mechanisms, or ban the sale of them in Australia (in line with measures taken by governments in Belgium and the Netherlands).
Support the regulation of loot boxes within the video games industry within Australia. At the very minimum making it illegal for children to be able to purchase loot boxes under the age of 21. Also, regulations on the actual content of loot boxes so that there must be at least SOME reward for money spent or even monthly caps for individual spenders to limit the financial impact of a problem gambler before he/she has been able to find help.

I have been an avid video gamer since the 1980s and it is one of my favourite past times. Just like novels and films, video games provide an escape for the player as a way of winding down after a hard day’s work. In addition to this, I believe it is one of many fantastic ways parents can bond with their children while developing skills such as complex problem-solving.

Unfortunately, as is currently being discussed in the senate, this joy is now very regularly turning to concern with the rise of predatory style advertising of gambling mechanics within popular video games via Loot Boxes (an industry now worth $30 billion USD and predicted to rise to $50 billion by 2022). This especially concerns me given almost all of them are marketed to children. The fact that many parents have no idea their kids may be even exposed to gambling at a young age is extremely concerning since these mechanics are normally hidden away until you are already in the game as loot boxes and premium currencies emerge. I recently spoke to my children about these style of mechanics in games as I noticed they are more and more prevalent in games focused on young children.

Studies are evolving on the topic of potential links to increases in youth gambling as a possible result of loot boxes and the growing body of evidence paints a damning picture. This problem now seems to be intensifying with examples like Foxnext’s Marvel Strike Force’s Elite red stars system (this is a video game on mobile phones) now going so far as implementing a loot box system that you can spend upward of $99.99 AUD for one roll of the dice and walk away no actual in game items at all. You pay money, roll the dice and walk away with nothing – almost the very definition of a loss in gambling. This is an escalation of providing very low rewards for large sums of money to offering a possibility of losing all your money and having nothing to show for it. I truly fear that exposing kids to a high risk - high reward system early in their psychological development could have horrendous societal and behavioural issues in future generations if left unchecked. In the UK, a government report published in 2018 suggested that the amount of children aged 11-16 who had participated in gambling behaviours in the previous 12 months had increased four times higher than the previous study 2 years earlier.

(Source https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/pdf/survey-data/young-people-and-gambling-2018-report.pdf

On top of this, it has been a topic of debate for generations in Australia on the subject of problem gambling and its unbelievably destructive force on people with addictive personalities and gambling addiction. We have fought hard to regulate gambling in our establishments (pubs and clubs); however, the reach of this form of gambling is far more pervasive and can occur in any environment where an electronic device is being utilised. We are literally putting slot machines under the guise of video games in people’s pockets meaning more than ever, people with these pre-dispositions can find themselves in harm’s way – something the study mentioned during your sessions in parliament have discussed. The fact this study showed a strong correlation between spending on loot boxes and gambling addiction goes further to confirm my fears of Loot boxes being an agent of enabling people who should be protected from such mechanics.
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