Could Loot Boxes be Banned in the UK?

To be clear I am not trying to advocate that the game should or should not be banned I am just stating what I believe is highly likely to happen and I am aware some people spend a lot of money on this game. I therefore believe people should be aware of this before they spend a lot more.

I may have mentioned before I make money from online gambling and take this seriously. I have therefore been following the UKGC (UK Gambling Commission) in the news because there is a major overhaul of the UK gambling act.

The UKGC recently stated they are going after loot boxes and loot boxes look highly likely to be classed as gambling. So far they have identified several areas to target

  1. they want to cut out underage gambling This means empires and puzzles would likely have to do age verification checks on all UK Customers
  2. They want to eliminate problem gambling and protect vulnerable people from gambling. Affordability checks is a big thing being pushed. This means empires and puzzles are likely to have to do affordability checks on UK customers which may mean credit checks and asking for bank statements etc.
  3. Fairness is a pivotal thing they are pushing in gambling, without trying to get political here, many may feel that the constant nerfing and buffing of heroes breaks this principle.

Effectively empires and puzzles would either need to drastically overhaul their game mechanics and business practices for the UK or they would risk been banned in the UK.

I cannot see them making special changes to the UK only since this may provide UK players with an advantage or disadvantage, plus it is a lot of admin to take on to do age verification checks and affordability checks.

The issue with the UKGC and news at the moment is many things are vague and its not clear exactly what will happen but big things are coming and based on everything I have been following I believe there is a very high chance the game will not be available to the UK in the future.

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Do you have a link to any articles?

I can’t find any documents referencing loot boxes on their website since 2018

Their top related document on the subject appears to be from 2017.

https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/news-action-and-statistics/News/loot-boxes-within-video-games

Is there a newer one?

The main point seems to be

In practical terms this means that where in-game items obtained via loot boxes are confined for use within the game and cannot be cashed out it is unlikely to be caught as a licensable gambling activity. In those cases our legal powers would not allow us to step in.

Edit:

Ah ok, found this recent BBC article from 2nd April.

It’s referencing a new university study and a House of Lords report from last year.

It’s certainly an interesting area, but I think it’s probably a bit early to predict what would actually be covered in legislation. The HM government aren’t generally quick to regulate anything that brings in revenue or anything online.

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OTOH others may feel that the constant buffing and nerfing of heroes is an attempt to achieve fairness.

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these are in regards to fairness and affordability checks

Since the rewards that players receive from loot boxes are neither money nor money’s worth, they do not constitute a “game of chance” under the 2005 Act. The Gambling Commission clarified that “where in-game items obtained via loot boxes are confined for use within the game and cannot be cashed out it is unlikely to be caught as a licensable gambling activity. In those cases our legal powers would not allow us to step in.”
this is a point but the 2005 gambling act is up for review and changes are been made so whilst currently they cant go after loot boxes this is due for change when legislation is changed/updated. they are in the process of changing/replacing the 2005 gambling act.

for the bbc article which someone else already posted.

“The upcoming Gambling Act review is set to look at the question, with the UK’s House of Lords already having weighed in to say that loot boxes should be firmly regulated as “games of chance”.”

so it looks like they have already concluded loot boxes are gambling.

For me I have cut back spending to path of valor only. The issue is that with loss limits been proposed spending on empires could in the future ruin my income.

They are talking about loss limits for a month. I am profitable poker player but you cannot realistically avoid downswings and periods of bad luck. Yes most days I am profitable but to say I never have losing days/periods would be lying/delusional. If when luck is not on my side I lose beyond a certain freshhold I could be barred from gambling for the rest of the month. obviously if empires counts in this then any money I spend on empires puts me closer to losing a significant source of income for the month.
Effectively if that £30 purchase pushes me over the limit I could end up losing out on literally £1000s hence until the situation becomes clearer I have cut back all spending on Empires and Puzzles to Path of Valor pass only.

I think Empires and Puzzles could manage to stay in the UK if they blocked all spending for UK players until Age verified and then had a max spending limit which could only be exceeded if people went through affordability checks.

This game seems determined to squeeze every morsel of cash out of people possible so clearly if it appears economically worthwhile they will do these things if it keeps them in the UK market.

Fairness though they may fail, nerfing and buffing of heros and new features/heroes coming out which makes old heroes less competitive etc etc could be argued to fail on fairness grounds. As stated people could argue it the other way too.

I dont know how long it will take UKGC/UK government to bring in legal changes/regulation changes. No one does but I hope it takes time as I am trying to save up funds to move to another country if this becomes necessary. I don’t make extortionate amounts of money from poker. I would even be surprised if I was the best poker player on these forums, However I do make a better then average income for my country and I dont fancy going back to shelf stacking/Kitchen porter work if the legislation screws with gambling too much.

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My question is, is this game really gambling? F2Ps have been at this game without spending a dime. You can’t do that in casinos and gambling houses.

And how do they define lootboxes? Are they the regular chests we open on a regular basis? How do they relate to gambling? My understanding is a player buy gems using real money. Those gems can be used for better in-game experiences and conveniences, i.e. hero cap increase, additional team slots, more chances summoning for prized heroes and troops, speed up building, research, leveling of heroes and troops, etc. Again, gems only enhance player experience. You don’t use it to get more gems, like what gambling using real money do.

I believe that people who have dropped real money on the game can probably figure out how a VPN works.

BUT. Apart from that I would say that is a move in the right direction quite frankly.

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By the time push comes to shove and SG have to make a legally-binding decision on pushing the button, this game will be all but a distant memory

Yes when you do summons you have random chances and are gambling hoping to get something good. Actually every gambling site I have ever come across offers F2P products. From play money for poker and casino games to freerolls. A freeroll is where you can buy into a poker tournament for free and be able to win money sounds great but the vast majority of free rolls really arent worth the time if your playing for profit. Most casinos I have visited also offer a free bet upon sign up, and sports betting normally gives free bets as well. he idea is to give people a taste and then entice them into spending lots more.

In fact some people make quite decent money taking advantage of all the promos and free bets its not something you can make a living off but you could make several hundred to several thousand this way.
Matched betting is alsoa way people take advantage of promos as well but that is a whole other topic.

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But it isn’t all about SG, it’s about the entire business model and how it is designed to work on or with people.

The other issue at stake is the customers and their time and investment into the game.

If they are going to push this, and the game is no longer playable for UK citizens, All players across the UK should be awarded compensation for the time and money they’ve invested into the game. This would require a valuation of people’s accounts, in-game rosters, item stores, base progression… It would be a nightmare for the government.

This looks a lot like good intentions with terrible outcomes. Hope this turns out better than it looks now.

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Well, the demise of that cannot come soon enough. But I’m not sobbing with my Kage just yet

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If I could cash in my account now and get a fair valuation for heroes I have money spent and time spent I would do so in a heartbeat.

whether you think they should or should do this is besides the point it is highly unlikely they would compensate UK players. Though if you argue you had a gambling problem they exploited you and did not do proper affordability checks there may be some legal way of getting money back. Since quite a few cases where people have successfully sued bookies and got money back in the UK. However I am not a lawyer and am not qualified to give legal advice in that regard. It is definitely not an avenue I would go down as that would list me as a problem gambler and get me barred from every gambling site. Also it would be highly dishonest on my part.

I am a likely a lot more concerned then you this could affect my main source of income, not just my ability to spend money on a game or continue to play a game.

I personally believe in liberty and people having freedom to make their own choices and been responsible for them. Sadly for me not everyone agrees with that.

There is any easy fix. Every 3rd 10x summon or 30th hero receive a HA random 5* with limit on max draw per month. Doesnt have be 5* offer. They could offer loot tickets. They only need claim your paying toward a goal with random items along the way. There always a solition…

Edit: in fact, they offer ascension material for ever 10x draws now… :thinking:

You posted just after me! What part of Virtual Private Network (VPN) that you can get for ~15 pounds a year did you fail to get?

We’ll, it’s a matter of perspective. And I respect yours. The way I see it, in gambling, you have a very high chance of losing and thus get nothing. In summoning in this game, you are guaranteed a hero, the rarity of which is based on the advertised odds. It may not be the prized hero you wanted, but it’s still a hero nonetheless. I have never experienced summoning and get nothing. Even the Dawas and Renfelds have their uses.

F2Ps get those 5* legendaries, too, but only few by reason that they have fewer chances getting them compared to moneyed players who wanted to have more chances getting those prized legendaries and a lot lot lot earlier. Again, they are the moneyed and willing ones and they have the luxury to do so.

And that is how I see it. My perspective.

Don’t see it happening.
Just need a age verification really shouldnt be to hard to do if your going to use real money in the game.
To open a UK bank account I do think it’s 16 more for work reasons, but the bank can stop you spending on games until your 18 then classed as adult.
So if parents are letting their kids spend money on it, it’s their own faults really as how can they with out there details.

Age verification with bank or phone company job done.

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I don’t think you get what @Winni is saying here.

Currently the game isn’t subject to regulation. In part because you can’t get money out.

The UK is looking at changing the regulations, and then it would be. All gacha games give you “something” when you pull, but nobody is fooled here — some things are far more valuable than others and that’s the entire point and why it may become regulated in the UK.

What happens then for players in the UK is unclear.

SGG has made a BILLION DOLLARS on this game. And it’s hardly the largest gacha game out there.

So, you are adhering to what he is saying that summoning a hero is gambling? Because that was the part I was quoting him for. I don’t gamble. But as far as I understood, when you do, there are only 2 outcomes. You win or you lose. You get something or get nothing. I don’t see that when you summon. You always get something.

Hard to apply here I guess. The only money transaction here is buying gems and other mats without any actual randomness involved. Hard to say E&P is gambling as you buy gems (guaranteed transaction), and you can use those in the game to get random stuff. I couldn’t find any ->random transaction, but only ->gems->random. SG gives you exactly what you pay for (gems), then it’s up to people to use gems however they please.

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So if it progresses we will end up with 2 things:

Something that states you must be 18 or over to play

And some strapping on the portal that explains the chances you are taking

And life will go on. Bans rarely happen. The roulette machines in Bookies which were called “the crack of gambling” weren’t banned. Merely slowed down so you couldn’t lose your rent in 5 minutes. It takes an hour now and someone is supposed to come over and ask if you are ok…which you can just answer yes to.

I do believe there needs to be limits to stop real problem spending but beyond that, adults can decide how they spend there money.

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