BLIGHTY HAS JOINED FORCES with 15 other nations in a bid to tackle video game features that they reckon are basically gambling.
A cohort of EU gambling commissions and agencies tasked with keeping an eye on dodgy practices joined forces with yet-to-Brexit Britain and the Washington State Gambling Commission to "address the risks created by the blurring of lines between gaming and gambling".
This includes looking at things like loot boxes in massively popular games like Fortnite and Overwatch, as well as more obvious gambling activity provided through third-party websites based around games like Counter-Strike; Global Offensive and FIFA Ultimate Team. These titles have eSports competitions that people can view on YouTube and gamble upon the outcome through websites not directly related to the game or competition.
"We have joined forces to call on video games companies to address the clear public concern around the risks gambling and some video games can pose to children," said Neil McArthur, chief executive and signatory for the UK's Gambling Commission.
"We encourage video games companies to work with their gambling regulators and take action now to address those concerns to make sure that consumers, and particularly children, are protected."
There's appears to be quite a lot of grey area to tackle when it comes to gambling in games. Obviously, gambling through third-party websites is something that falls neatly under the purview of gambling agencies and commissions. But things like loot boxes are a different thing altogether, given in the UK they are fine if the items, character skins and other digital doo-dahs gained through them cannot then be sold on for money.
But there are third-party sites that allow for money to be exchanged for items, especially as in-game items in some multiplayer games can be freely exchanged between players; an external site can be used to agree on such trades in exchange for real money.
Given the majority of big name games, and indeed smaller titles, are rated for global audiences, we suspect there will be some challenges in policing video game-related gambling and ensuring that any regulations imposed by one nation are adopted by games companies looking to flog their latest titles all over the place.
With in-app purchases also presenting moral grey areas when it comes to gaming, tackling dodgy dealings and game gambling looks to be something that's not going away anytime soon. µ
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