WestLotto, the state lottery of North Rhine-Westphalia, is calling for discussions about the loot box regulation with politicians, scientists and industry representatives.
Axel Weber, who leads WestLotto’s responsible gaming efforts, made the comments after Interactive Entertainment (Ukie), the UK trade body for the gaming industry, last week recommended restricting loot boxes to over-18s.
In addition to this recommendation, ten additional loot box rules were introduced in Ukie’s new guidelines. This included introducing technical controls for loot box access that would require parental consent to circumvent, and raising awareness of these rules.
Weber (pictured) says WestLotto would like to see similar guidelines in Germany.
“It is initially just a voluntary commitment by the providers – but it is being closely monitored by the government,” said Weber. “That’s where the exchange takes place that we urgently need in Germany when it comes to loot boxes.”
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) welcomed Ukie’s recommendations and praised the particular focus on young people. DCMS established Ukie’s technical working group in July 2022.
Weber says research is an essential prerequisite for the proposed roundtable discussions.
“WestLotto is also not calling for a complete ban on loot boxes,” he continued. “However, our social task must be to protect children and young people from gambling-like elements in games and to prevent them from developing problematic gaming behavior as early as adolescence.”
One of WestLotto’s central demands is further research into hidden gambling opportunities in video games. This is also clear in the UK recommendations.
Evolving regulatory landscape
The regulatory landscape regarding loot boxes continues to evolve worldwide.
In January, the European Parliament spoke out in favor of developing uniform regulations for loot boxes. An amendment to Australia’s existing media classification law was tabled late last year that would restrict video game loot boxes to people over the age of 18.
There is still a lack of guidelines in Germany, but some progress has been made. In January of this year, the German age rating authority Entertainment Software Self-Regulation began taking the presence of loot boxes into account in its rating process.
Weber hopes to use the UK’s recent moves as a springboard to encourage Germany to look into loot boxes in gaming.
“… we should now use this initiative from Great Britain as an opportunity to further promote youth protection and clear rules in Germany,” he said.