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New Zealand - Loot Boxes Not Legally Gambling, UK May Beg to Differ

Showing the volatility of the "loot boxes as gambling" issue, New Zealand and the United Kingdom seem to be at odds with one another. New Zealand's Gambling Compliance Office is of the opinion that loot boxes do not meet the legal definition of gambling. The UK Gambling Commission is taking a different tack and honing in on third-party sites that let "children as young as 11 wager weapon skins for real money" and thereby explosing them to gambling.

The New Zealand Gambling Compliance Office, part of the Department of Internal Affairs, has offered its opinion that "loot boxes do not meet the legal definition of gambling". This marks the first statement by a legal agency looking into the issue of loot boxes that have been a large part of the gaming world's discussion for the past several weeks. Belgium is also looking into the controversy, though has yet to hand down a decision.

The NZ Gambling Compliance Office opened its investigation after one of its regulators responded to a student that the department believed that loot boxes were a form of gambling.

The statement was made by elected officials in New Zealand in response to an outreach from Gamasutra. "New Zealand's government seems to be adopting a wait-and-see approach, which also hints at the complicated legal landscape awaiting game studios as regulators and legislators throw their gauntlets down on the lootbox issue."

The BBC had this to say about the United Kingdom's investigation:

Sarah Harrison, chief executive of the Gambling Commission, said: "Because of these unlicensed skin betting sites, the safeguards that exist are not being applied and we're seeing examples of really young people, 11 and 12-year-olds, who are getting involved in skin betting, not realising that it's gambling.

"At one level they are running up bills perhaps on their parents' Paypal account or credit card, but the wider effect is the introduction and normalisation of this kind of gambling among children and young people."

American lawmakers in Hawaii are also dabbling in the controversy, suggesting that it is hoped the industry will regulate itself, though, if not, new legislation may need to be introduced to help out

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Suzie Ford / Suzie is the Associate Editor and News Manager at MMORPG.com. Follow her on Twitter @MMORPGMom

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