NHS mental health director calls for loot box ban

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In recent years and months HEXUS has reported upon the manoeuvring of video games companies with regards to loot boxes, and last October we saw the UK's NHS opening its first [video] gaming addiction clinic.

Loot boxes aren't now regulated by England's Gambling Commission because their contents can't be monetized.

A Department of Digital, Media, Culture and Sport select committee a year ago into addictive and immersive technologies said that publishers and developers needed to work with European rating agency PEGI on the subject of loot boxes and advised the organisation to label "gambling" content as such. "No firm should sell to children loot box games with this element of chance", said Murdoch. It also mentions that half of United Kingdom parents let their children play a game with a mature rating without having seen any of the game themselves, and that there have been cases of children purchasing microtransactions without their parents' knowledge.

In order to progress in games, children can spend money on extra items and in-game content which are stored in loot boxes. In a report released earlier today, Murdoch condemned the industry of pushing young people into "under the radar" gambling, and believes games that target loot boxes at kids should be removed from sale outright.

Further, Murdoch said that video game companies should actually publish the odds for items in loot boxes and make those odds clear before the loot boxes are purchased. The statement continues to point out that, based on the gambling commission's current reports, there are now 55,000 children classed as having a gambling problem in England.

"That is why on the 10th January we launched our Get Smart About PLAY campaign, which is created to help parents and carers manage play online and in the home. We look forward to working constructively with them on it". Her comments come as the NHS begins to open treatment centres for gambling addictions. We need an evidence-based approach to ensure our young people and gamers in general do not continue to be subjected to new and increasingly harmful products without our intervention'.

Mrs Murdoch says that the gambling industry should take more responsibility for helping to tackle gambling addiction, and "prevent the occasional flutter from turning into a risky habit".

"The government has committed to conducting a review of the Gambling Act, which loot boxes will form a part of".



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