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Lootboxes: Advice to the Gambling Commission from ABSG

ABSG has given advice to the Gambling Commission in regards to lootboxes. This advice outlines what lootboxes are, concerns around them, and how to protect consumers.

Summary of key points

Studies have found links between lootbox purchases and problem gambling amongst young people. These correlations have been estimated to be as strong as those between problem gambling and using online slots and casino games.

Lootboxes are engaging children in gambling-style behaviour from a young age. Many studies have shown that people under-18s clearly perceive lootboxes to be gambling. How children perceive lootboxes is important and should be reflected in public policy.

Lootboxes do not meet the legal definition of gambling - and are therefore legal for under-18-year-olds. A situation, however, where children are experiencing what they perceive to be commercial gambling is highly concerning. Particularly as public policy in the UK widely accepts that, with a small number of exceptions, children should not take part in commercial gambling.

High-levels of expenditure on gambling-like products – often in short periods of time – is a source of consumer detriment. This is more concerning due to the unclear information provided to consumers on these products.

In analysing the evidence, we have considered three main areas of potential detriment:

  • association with current harmful gambling behaviour
  • association with harmful gambling behaviour in the future
  • high levels of unplanned expenditure – particularly if the consumer was not clear what they were purchasing – or if the expenditure was by a child.
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Links to current harmful behaviour
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