Gambling and Video Games

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 13th March 2019.

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Photo of Laura Smith Laura Smith Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans his Department has to tackle issues arising from a potential convergence between gaming and gambling.

Photo of Laura Smith Laura Smith Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the effect of (a) of the increased use loot boxes in and (b) other aspects of video games on levels of gambling.

Photo of Laura Smith Laura Smith Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans he has to increase awareness among parents of the potential for some video games to encourage gambling behaviour in children.

Photo of Laura Smith Laura Smith Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with the Gambling Commission on (a) the use of loot boxes in video games and (b) concerns that those features encourage gambling behaviour.

Photo of Laura Smith Laura Smith Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions he has had with the video games sector on concerns about the convergence of gaming and gambling.

Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

The Gambling Commission, as the regulator for gambling in Great Britain, has strong powers and can take action where it needs to address emerging risks. We meet regularly with the Gambling Commission and the games industry to discuss a range of issues including concerns around the potential for convergence between gambling and video games.

Loot boxes do not fall under gambling law where the in-game items acquired are confined for use within the game and cannot be cashed out. However, the Government is aware of concerns that loot boxes and other entertainment products, such as some video games, could encourage gambling-like behaviour or participation in gambling and in the longer term lead to gambling related harm. Our assessment to date is that, while participation rates in gambling are stable, we will continue to look closely at any new evidence around these issues, and in particular where there is evidence of harm.

In addition, the Gambling Commission, along with 15 other regulators from Europe and the USA, have agreed to work together to monitor the characteristics of video games and social gaming and where there is potential cross-over into gambling. They will also work to raise parental and consumer awareness.

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