2020 is finally here and the United Kingdom’s gambling industry is bracing for a number of sweeping changes. Efforts to clean up the industry have been ramped over the past year and are not set to take center stage as more developments come into place. However, it is not the only sector that is going to be in the spotlight in 2020. Video games now have a deeper relationship with gambling several parties are beginning to take notice of this rather controversial situation.
In late December 2019, the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) finally weighed in on the ongoing debate about gambling in video games. According to the charity organization, betting-style features in video games are “polluting” the lives of young people and they should be therefore reclassified as gambling.
RSPH delivered a wide-ranging report that clearly outlined some of its proposals which include the complete overhaul of gambling regulation in the United Kingdom. In the report, the charity organization mentioned several video game titles and sporting activities that they believe should be probed due to their association with various gambling style mechanisms. In addition to that, the report also shed some light on some marketing ties that allowed gambling companies to workaround certain safeguards that have been put in place to prevent problem gambling.
The issue of loot boxes was still a major part of the report. In the United Kingdom, there is still no definitive law regarding the controversial loot boxes and skins often included in video games. There have been numerous calls for a regulatory crackdown on these video game features but there still seems to be some laxity due to their rather ambiguous definition.
A huge chunk of the country’s video game market comprises of young people and this is more than enough justification of the plans that are in place to prevent it. According to RSPH’s report, the increasing inclusion of loot boxes and skins in video games has introduced young people to some very easily accessible forms of gambling.
“Young people are not universally opposed to gambling and gambling-like activity; they simply want to be able to recognize where it appears in their lives and to make an informed decision as to whether to avoid it altogether or to participate in a way that lowers the stakes for their health and wellbeing,” RSPH chief executive Shirley Cramer CBE commented.
In essence, this matter is more of a public health issue which means that there is a lot that needs to be done in order to handle it. Education and regulation are definitely going to be a huge part of these efforts. 2020 may the year that all this happens.