The news about loot-boxes across several outlets have cool downed compared to last year when Forza Motorsport 7 and Star Wars Battlefront 2 were launching. Yet it seems that politicians are still trying to weigh in on the aftermath of the loot-box fiasco, which includes that of a Washington state senator’s newly introduced bill that determines whether loot-boxes are gambling.
In recent news that comes in by gamesindustry.biz, a Washington state senator has introduced a bill to define whether or not the “mechanic” or “feature” known as loot-boxes in games is gambling.
The publication site makes mention that the Washington Gambling Commission is aware of loot-boxes, however it has not made it public if its for or against said digitaL service mechanic.
Government bodies indifferent or sitting on the fence might be swayed sometime soon due to Kevin Ranker, a Democratic state senator for Orcas Island, pushing Washington officials and game publisher/developers to reach a decisive conclusion on loot-boxes.
Ranker is quoted by the publication site by saying:
“What the bill says is, ‘Industry, state: sit down to figure out the best way to regulate this'”.
“It is unacceptable to be targeting our children with predatory gambling masked in a game with dancing bunnies or something.”
By the above quote we can tell that Ranker is against the current practice that has stirred up quite the controversy in recent times, but the bill in question highlights three major points:
1). Whether games and apps containing loot-box mechanics are considered gambling under Washington law.
2). Whether these mechanics belong in games and apps.
3). Whether minors should have such ready access to games and apps that do feature loot-boxes, and the “lack of disclosure and transparency with respect to the odds of receiving each type of virtual item.
Furthermore, a direct conclusion has to be made no later than December 1st, 2018. This means that the Washington State Gambling Commission must provide a written solution addressing how to regulate the practice known as loot-boxes and include options for the addition of regulations restricting the sale of games containing loot-boxes.
Ranker believes the odds/numbers for all loot-box mechanics should be disclosed publicly and followed it up by saying:
“If [parents] realised how predatory these game are then they wouldn’t want them under their Christmas tree, they wouldn’t want them going to their kids”.
As noted above, this bill must be acted upon no later than December 1st, 2018.