Thanks to both you and @FrenziedEye for the kind words. I’m based in the United Kingdom though I will say with every passing day here at the moment it feels like the “United” is becoming false advertising given the way we’re going but best not get into that right now.
If you’re looking into your country’s gambling laws I sincerely hope the website is better laid out that it is here, I was familiar on a good deal of these rules from awhile ago but going back to the website now it looks like its been changed to spread most of the information across a number of different PDFs on different pages that was a pain to find the exact names/classifications for certain things but anyway.
Charity raffle regulations, great games are addictive and informed consent
Having sat through and read all the rules and regulations of what a charity raffle can and can’t legally do it seems absurd to me that loot boxes have less regulations than a charity raffle! Indeed given the amount of laws and regulations the likes of drugs, casinos, alcohol and bars/pubs are each subjected to in most jurisdictions I find it equally bizarre that they’ve been brought up as counterpoints to whether loot boxes should face pretty much any regulation.
Psychological research has shown that great games are addictive and as such every games company wants to make great, addictive games. That in itself I don’t think is a problem, hell if I was a game developer, I would want to make games people enjoy playing. Now according to the Australian report some games are using algorithms and ratios perfected on EGMs (Electronic Gambling Machines) over decades for the optimal “smooth ride to extinction” which is gambling lingo for how to squeeze all the money out of a gambler as fast as possible. Now whilst the typical person entering a casino or bar knows what to expect going into those establishments and may act accordingly I would say that many phone users looking to play a mobile game are not expecting that they be subjected to such mechanisms perfected on gambling machines. I the user’s mind they’re simply just looking for a game to play and won’t have considered how much like gambling a particular game is (not all mobile games use gambling like mechanics and even those that do they extent varies) making them unsuspecting so that they’re more likely to fall into something they wouldn’t have done had the game been clearly marked as a form of gambling or if they were informed the game uses “smooth ride to extinction” mechanics. Indeed I would hope businesses recognising the symbiotic relationship between company and customers would recognise the importance of ensuring customers are fully aware of what they are getting into as mislead customers is the basis of fraud and the preserve of con-artists.
So yes if charitable raffles have the regulations that they do then I certainly do think the games that are deploying gambling style mechanics commercially should definitely face regulation too, especially to segregate them from those games not deploying such mechanics to make efforts to demarcate them so vulnerable user groups can choose to avoid them completely and potentially for age-restriction purposes as well as informing customers before playing what the nature of their gambling mechanics are and the nature of any gambling style monetisation maximising algorithms used so they can give informed consent.
Apple, Google, political progress and activism
If by the middle men you mean Apple and Google I’m not sure about that. Indeed I think that Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass have been in part inspired by the two companies reading the direction the regulatory winds were changing internationally and are looking to get ahead of it by getting platforms built up and established for the day that international regulation hits the revenue for micro-transaction heavy apps. If either company was that concerned about the ethics involved there was nothing stopping them putting in place their own rules on their app store, especially in Apple’s case who cannot be said to be shy to censor or prohibit some apps and content. As such I think political pressure is a catalyst at work here.
Whilst the rate of progress may be slow that is generally the case with most political progress, the exceptions being after significant tragedies and whilst some researchers have warned there may be tragic consequences to loot boxes (https://www.pcgamer.com/uk/loot-boxes-are-a-matter-of-life-or-death-for-problem-gamblers-says-researcher/) I hope that it won’t get to that point.
I suspect that where I am that regulation is going to be inevitable, there are a lot of MPs across the main parties in what is currently rare state of agreement on the issue and as time goes on the more parents who discover their kids have got hooked on a loot box based game that they wouldn’t have approved of had they known just adds more to the political pressure for at a minimum age-restriction. However if people really feel strongly about the issue and wish to pursue it then by all means take it up with your elected representatives and keep an eye out for these sorts of reviews in case they are asking for public submissions as your experiences helps to build pressure, you may even be able to bring up a perspective that may help strengthen a point that proves pivotal or lead to investigations into other aspects (for example whether some of the mechanics are deemed aggressive or unfair according to your country’s consumer protection laws) but at an absolute minimum I’d subscribe to ones of those services for games when they come out as money talks so if those subscription platforms become successful game companies will need to shift focus.