The controversy around loot boxes has become so prolific that it’s even escaped gaming circles to become a topic of interest for lawmakers and regulators around the world. The latest comes from the US, with a Washington state senator making plans for legislation that would - eventually - lead to regulation of loot box sales within the state.
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The bill introduced by Democrat state senator Kevin Ranker makes no specific indication towards how that regulation would be implemented. Instead, it asks that the Washington state gambling commission conduct a study to determine whether state law could consider loot boxes gambling, whether these types of transactions “belong in games and apps,” whether minors should have access to these types of games, and whether there’s a lack of disclosure around odds for digital items. The bill, if passed, would require the commission to present findings by December 1, 2018.
“What the bill says is, ‘Industry, state: sit down to figure out the best way to regulate this,’” Ranker tells The News Tribune. “It is unacceptable to be targeting our children with predatory gambling masked in a game with dancing bunnies or something.”
On his Twitter account, Ranker says “I am proud to be sponsoring legislation to protect our children from predatory video games that blur the lines between gaming and gambling in a way children cannot recognize.”
This follows similar measures from state legislators in Hawaii. The UK gambling commission has determined that loot boxes do not meet their legal definition of gambling, and the government of Belgium’s investigation into the matter is still ongoing.