Australia is infamous for its losses to gambling. Every month, gamblers lose hundreds of millions of dollars to the activity, while the losses annually are at a billion-dollar scale. Many changes were discussed in different Australian states recently, yet a nationwide overhaul of the gambling sector also represents a possible option for the country to curb the losses to gambling and help protect punters from gambling harm.
While the debate on gambling regulation continues, a new proposal seeks to limit the options of children accessing games that feature gambling-like elements. Such functionalities, including the popular loot boxes, are a hot topic not only in Australia.
Recently, ABC revealed that a proposal calls to restrict the access of underage customers to video games that offer simulated gambling features. The proposal calls to enforce a mandatory R18+ rating for such video games, thus restricting the option for children to access them.
Similarly, the new proposal seeks to restrict access to games containing paid loot boxes. The popular mechanic that allows players to purchase a loot box that contains a random in-game prize is a part of many leading games, played primarily by children. Under the new proposal, such games would receive an “M” for mature rating, helping curb the access of children to that functionality.
Besides the lucrative loot boxes, social casinos also represent a threat to children, studies suggested. Social casino games enable the customers to enjoy a similar experience to a pokie machine and some even offer the players the option to purchase virtual coins with real money. However, those games do not pay out real money, which allows them to fall through the cracks in the regulation by not being classified as gambling.
Different studies have suggested a link between people interested in social casinos and gambling. Similarly, loot boxes have also raised eyebrows, considering the mechanic that closely resembles a slot machine and given the thrill it brings with the chance of winning an in-game item that has significant value.
However, the gambling industry has rejected claims that social casinos can push people to gamble. Also, a study released in 2018, claimed that social casinos aren’t popular among children and in fact, only 0.25% of the players are under 18, while only 0.008% of the players under 18 have engaged in spending real money on the activity.