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Gambling: Video Games

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 8th October 2019.

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Photo of Yasmin Qureshi Yasmin Qureshi Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she is taking to support research into the effects of gambling-like mechanics in video games on (a) young and (b) vulnerable players of those games.

Photo of Nigel Adams Nigel Adams Minister of State

The DCMS Select Committee’s report on Immersive and Addictive Technology was published on 12th September. It is critical of the games sector and makes a dozen recommendations for Government action.

Most of the media coverage of the report focussed on the Select Committee’s recommendation that DCMS should change the Gambling Act to bring into scope the loot box mechanics that some games contain. The report also recommended that DCMS should work with researchers to identify key questions needed to develop research into the long term effects of (video) gaming and that DCMS should establish a scientific working group to collate the latest evidence on the effects of “gambling-like” mechanics in games.

DCMS is leading on the Government response which has been requested by 11 November and officials are currently developing advice for ministers.

The UK’s video games sector - and particularly a number of the large inward investors here - are alarmed at the tone of the Select Committee’s report and looking to Government to show it will take an evidence-based and proportionate approach in its response.

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 Gambling Commission is aware of possible areas of convergence between video games and gambling, and will continue to monitor this closely.

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