Across the world, governments have investigated the question of whether loot boxes found in video games constitute gambling.
In some countries, the answer has been a resounding yes, with strict laws following to limit loot boxes and make sure that they are included under strict gambling laws. In others, loot boxes have been ruled to be a normal part of video gaming and do not fall until a country's gambling rules.
So where does Australia stand? At this point, there is no official government opinion on this topic, but all this is set to change by September.
The Environment and Communications References Committee has been authorized to investigate the practice of loot boxes in video games, after a motion was presented by Senator Jordon Steele-John of the Australia Greens Party. He has the backing of the opposition to begin this investigation.
The Committee will examine the "use of loot boxes in video games, whether they constitute gambling, and whether they are appropriate for younger audiences."
Investigating Loot Boxes
Senator Steele-John, who has been questioning the legality of loot boxes for some time now, is particularly worried that children are able to access them so freely.
"An incredible number of popular big name titles incorporate these kinds of monetized game mechanics, not as a way of improving in-game experience, but as a way of simply prying more money off of their players," he said in a statement.
The Committee study will examine whether the items won in loot boxes can be sold for monetary gain, as well as the adequacy of current consumer protection laws and regulatory frameworks in place.
Support from Opposition
Steele-John, who actively supports stronger gambling laws said: "The impact of gambling on people's lives is such that we cannot afford to stay silent on this issue, and it is fantastic both the government and the opposition are supporting the Greens on this issue."
By September 17th, when the Committee is set to present their findings, Australia will decide whether to implement stricter policies such as in Belgium and the Netherlands, or to continue as normal such as in the United Kingdom.
Watch this space.