Loot boxes are not deemed gambling under current legislation as the digital prizes they offer are not considered to have a monetary value.
However, the report argued this approach failed to recognise the value the online items held for children, who were being persuaded to spend “enormous sums” on them. Experts estimate that current loot box market is worth £20 billion worldwide and including £700 million in the UK.
Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, commenting on today’s report, said: “Playing games online can be a rewarding and exciting and help children to develop strategic skills and friendships, but they are also open to exploitation by games companies who play on their need to keep up with friends and to advance to further stages of a game by encouraging children to spend on loot boxes.
“Children have told us they worry they are gambling when they buy loot boxes, and it’s clear some children are spending hundreds of pounds chasing their losses. I want the Government to classify ‘loot boxes’ in games like FIFA as a form of gambling.”
The Children’s Commissioner’s call comes after MPs on the culture select committee and the Church of England have both called for the Government to ban loot box sales for under 18s earlier this year.
The report also said that video games companies should impose daily spending limits by default for children and players should be able to see a record of the total amount they had spent.