The UKGC has recently told MPs that developers of video games containing these mechanics are at risk of prosecution, depending on if children are found to be gambling in their games. The commission has said that more severe warnings are on the horizon for repeat offenders, with Call of Duty and Counter Strike being personally named.
Although loot boxes, such as FIFA packs containing players and Counter Strike cases offering weapon skins, are not considered gambling under English law, there are certain third party sites which are creating grey areas. These sites often allow for these weapon skins to be traded for real money, which increases the element of gambling when opening these cases. Some sites also offer the chance to gamble items against either the computer or other players
It was noted that the developers behind FIFA aren’t the worst on the market, as they have made it difficult to sell the prizes out of their loot boxes. However, the element of gambling is still present, with the desire to get a rare item by chance.
Ian Lucas stated that “If businesses like EA don’t want to encourage gambling, why do they continue to use loot boxes? It seems to me that, bearing in mind children are using these games, that it’s creating an understanding of a process very close to gambling and that concerns me. It seems to me is that it makes money for EA.”
The simple answer to the question is that the loot box element of EA’s FIFA has made them a considerable amount of money. In fact in 2017, it was revealed that they made an estimated $2 billion in loot boxes alone, with this figure likely increasing in since then.
The UKGCs Chief Executive, Neil McArthur noted that the main concern is the fact that these companies, who are offering gambling-like products, have a lack of age verification. The strict age verification process is present on all regulated gambling websites, even the ones with access to free-to-play games.
The Cyprus Gaming and Casino Supervision Commission has outlined some of the upcoming restrictions, with the main stating that gambling adverts will not appear on public television and radio between 6am and 11pm. Any gambling adverts between 11pm and 6am cannot appear during or immediately before or after children’s programs or programs considered “likely to be of interest to children”.
Additionally, gaming advertising cannot target people under the age of 21 and must include a visible “Responsible Gambling” message. Indoor and outdoor adverts cannot appear within a 300 meter radius of a school or any other “primarily youth-oriented location,” including cinemas, parks and shopping centres
The requirements of this new system would involve operators identifying their customers, then by using the Office of National Statistics (ONS), find out the household earnings and then decide how much each of their customers can justify spending on gambling. The UKGC also said that operators will be expected to set limits on customers’ spending until the affordable amount has been determined.
The commission also stated that it would be required to ensure that their customers do not become problem gamblers by actively monitoring their betting behaviour. They suggested to closely watch their players for indicators, such as betting patterns, placing high stake bets following a win or chasing losses. Other signs of problem gambling can include how frequently they’re playing, the time of day and using multiple payment methods
They warned operators, saying that they have the authority to impose unlimited fines along with revoking licences for repeat offenders. “We expect you to take social responsibility seriously for all customers, including VIPs. We expect you to not let commercial considerations override customer protection.”
The new agreement gives both parties benefits, with High 5 Games being able to expand their reach on the market to a whole new level. White Hat Gaming will be adding a great catalogue of slots to their offering, including top-performing releases such as Midnight Eclipse, the Green Machine, Way Out Wilds and Silver Enchantress.
Anthony Singer, CEO and Founder of High 5 Games said: “We are delighted to be launching our games on White Hat Gaming’s proprietary platform, which opens the door for a host of new players to access and enjoy our popular titles. Partnering with a well-respected brand such as White Hat Gaming is a great opportunity for us and we look forward to growing the relationship together
Phil Gelvan, CEO of White Hat Gaming said: “High 5 Games has built an excellent reputation for providing popular and engaging games. The content will allow us to bring yet more innovative gaming experiences to our operator partners and their players, and we very much look forward to rolling out their slots.”
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