Loot Boxes Setting Kids For Addiction Says NHS Mental Health Director

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England's National Health Service (NHS) has released a report saying that loot boxes push kids toward “under the radar” gambling. Claire Murdoch, who is the Mental Health Director of England, was the one responsible for the report.

“Frankly no company should be setting kids up for addiction by teaching them to gamble on the content of these loot boxes”, Murdoch said in the report. “No firm should sell to children loot box games with this element of chance, so yes those sales should end.”

The report claims that investigations found "numerous cases" of children spending money without their parents’ knowledge. The report cited notable examples like a 16-year-old that spent £2,000 on a basketball game and a 15-year-old that lost £1,000 in a shooting game.

Murdoch demanded that game publishers fix these issues by implementing spending limits, telling players the odds of items in the loot boxes, or downright banning them. Most importantly, Murdoch wants to increase parent awareness about in-game spending.

Currently, England’s Gambling Commission does not regulate loot boxes because items in them can't be monetized. Murdoch mentioned that this is nothing but a “loophole”. “Despite this, third party websites selling gaming accounts and rare items are commonplace and easy to find on places such as eBay across the internet,” the report claims. You can read the full NHS report here.

This is not the first time online loot boxes have made headlines. In 2019, Anna Longfield, the Children Commissioner for England, recommended authorities to make loot boxes subject to the country’s gambling laws.

Earlier, the UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee suggested that European rating board PEGI take loot boxes into account while rating games. A recommendation was made after DCMS published its report in 2019 about addictive mechanics in games.

All the controversy about loot boxes are not happening only in Europe, in the US, a bill was introduced by US senator Josh Hawley from Missouri to ban loot boxes and 'Pay-to-Win' mechanics in games.

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