Ms Murdoch adds her voice to growing calls for the gaming industry to get their house in order, stating that ‘no company should be setting kids up for addition by teaching them to gamble on the content of […] loot boxes.’
Echoing similar calls made in the Royal Society for Public Health’s (RSPH) December 2019 report, Skins in the Game, Ms Murdoch has called on gaming companies to:
- Ban sales of games with loot boxes that encourage children to gamble
- Introduce fair and realistic spending limits to prevent people from spending thousands in games
- Make clear to users what percentage chance they have of obtaining the items they want before they purchase loot boxes
- Support parents by increasing their awareness on the risks of in-game spending
The calls come within a context of growing public awareness of the serious health consequences that can result from gambling, as well as cross-party political opposition to the industry’s pervasive influence in the worlds of sport, online gaming, and other parts of society. The last two weeks alone have seen the Betting and Gaming Council members waive their exclusive rights to show FA cup games, a ban on gambling with credit cards announced by the Gambling Commission, and the NHS mental health director writing to heads of gambling giants demanding they tackle betting-related ill health.
The NHS has also confirmed the opening of a new treatment centre for addiction related mental ill health, alongside the 14 gambling clinics announced in the NHS Long Term Plan last year.
Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, said:
“The rise of gambling by stealth in video games is a threat to the health and wellbeing of young people, and we commend the NHS for coming out with this bold call. There is no doubt that loot boxes must be regarded as a form of gambling – and indeed our research showed that three in five young people regard them as such. And yet, the world of online gaming remains an unregulated, fast-evolving and opaque market with little to no safeguards for children. The Government must now make good on its manifesto commitment, and move without delay to revamp the outdated 2005 Gambling Act, so that it reflects the challenges of the modern day and protects our young people.”