ESRB Does Not Consider Loot Boxes to Be Gambling


According to UKIE, the loot box systems in games - sometimes requiring gamers to use real money to purchase a box containing random items that may or may not have what players want - complies with the current United Kingdom, standards for gambling.

While some might like the idea of unlocking random stuff, it's a pain in the neck for those looking for one specific item. There's also the argument that if they did rule loot boxes to be gambling, any game with this kind of economy would be labeled "Adults Only" AO. It was implied that the "ESRB does not consider loot boxes to be gambling".

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Because the player always received something, it was likened to buying collectible cards, where some packs will contain more valuable cards than others. According to the ESRB's criteria, "Real Gambling" is any sort of wagering involving real cash, while "Simulated Gambling" means that the "player can gamble without betting or wagering real cash or currency". You may be throwing real money at loot boxes and you may not be getting what you want from them - potentially tempting you to part with yet more cash - but you are getting something.

Furthermore, the loot system can not fall under the gambling definition since digital items do not have intrinsic value.

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The rating board explained its reasoning in a statement given to Kotaku, effectively saying that random chance loot boxes as used in games like Overwatch and Shadow of War don't constitute digital gambling since players are guaranteed to receive in-game content for every purchase. A system where it's possible to get nothing new or useful for your money sounds like gambling to me. Not only do they need to shell out the $60 price tag for an A-list game, but they also have to pay for a subscription service premium to play online and then spend more on top to gain rare items so they can remain competitive in the game. The games sector has a history of open and constructive dialogue with regulators, ensuring that games fully comply with United Kingdom law and has already discussed similar issues as part of last year's Gambling Commission paper on virtual currencies, esports and social gaming.

The UK is now considering regulation of skin gambling and loot boxes, with a review by the UK Gambling Commission ongoing as of August 2017.

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Skin gambling is not prohibited as a betting activity and loot boxes can be traded within video games.