US and European gambling regulators unify to address in-game concerns

Microtransactions and skin betting is increasingly raising concerns from parties looking to protect children from gambling risks. This recent agreement may be the best effort to combat in-game gambling we've seen yet.

A report on Monday from the UK Gambling Commission announced an agreement made between 16 gambling regulators across Europe and the Washington State Gambling Commission to address gambling in games.

Described as addressing “the blurring of lines between gambling and gaming”, the parties involved will tackle issues such as skin betting, loot boxes and the use of gambling-themed content within video games available to youth. The agreement comes nearly a week after Belgian gambling authorities launched a criminal investigation into Electronic Arts after failing to comply with new laws that had targeted FIFA 18 Ultimate Team Packs, among others.

The report details plans of unifying to analyse and combat characteristics that may be deemed as gambling; expectations are that game developers will opt to work together with gambling regulators to reach compromise. Neil McArthur, Chief Executive and signatory for the Gambling Commission provided some additional insights into the logic behind the agreement.

“We have joined forces to call on video games companies to address the clear public concern around the risks gambling and some video games can pose to children. We encourage video games companies to work with their gambling regulators and take action now to address those concerns to make sure that consumers, and particularly children, are protected,” he said.

The accord fingerprints the first international collaboration with designs of tackling gambling concerns in video games.

Esports Insider says: Unregulated betting sites aside, in-game microtransactions such as loot boxes have been the subject of vast controversy due to its likeness to gambling and accessibility to children. This union may be the best effort the nations involved have at countering gambling and betting issues in video games.