The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) in Australia has said that loot boxes are gambling according to its definition in Victorian legislation.
The regulatory body was asked by Reddit user Caesar in an email about its opinion of what goes on in the blind boxes many of today’s games have.
Jarrod Wolfe, strategic analyst for the Compliance Division at VCGLR and the person who replied back to Caesar’s email, wanted to specifically highlight “pay to win” as potentially having predatory aspects.
“Skins, skins betting and virtual currencies are certainly a peripheral consideration,” he said. “However, the idea that (genuine) progression in a game could be reliant on the outcome of a random number generator is at odds with responsible gambling and the objectives of our acts.
“More importantly the normalisation of gambling vernacular and mechanics targeted at vulnerable persons (minors), is not just morally reprehensible, but is also legally questionable.”
Unfortunately, the commission can only investigate and advise. Thus, determining the legality of these practices would be hard, partly because all of the publishers implementing loot boxes in their games are not based in Australia. For any change to be made, it will have to be at the state and federal levels.
“We take on board responses from the community, such as your concerns, to ensure that our actions are reflective of the risks these products pose as well as the community’s expectation,” added Wolfe.
“Watching recent Reddit activity certainly indicates the majority of the gaming community is at odds with decisions made by certain companies.”
This comes a day after the Belgium Gaming Commission opened an investigation into the same issue. After we reported that the commission has said that loot boxes in games are gambling, a new report came out suggesting that the investigation is still ongoing.
Loot boxes being tied to progression in Star Wars: Battlefront 2 is what kicked off these investigations. The State of Hawaii in the US is the only lawmaker looking at legislation to prohibit loot boxes.