The ongoing controversy surrounding loot boxes in video games and their associated gambling implications continues to be a global issue. There is no definitive consensus regarding their definition, and Australian lawmakers have decided to take a different course of action to settle the dispute. Their proposed plan involves assigning an adults-only rating to selected video games.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) recently reported that the government plans to implement an R18+ rating for any video games that feature simulated gambling, including those that include casino-style games. This would mean that only adults aged 18 or over would be able to purchase such games due to the “potentially offensive content” they contain.
Furthermore, video games containing loot boxes will be subject to a minimum classification of “M” for mature, which indicates that the game is not recommended for anyone under the age of 15. This marks a shift from the government’s initiative last year to make loot box-containing video games for adults only.
Enforcing The Rules
The reforms have gained the backing of Communications Minister Michelle Rowland, who has been an integral part of the gambling reform movement in Australia. She remarked that the changes are “very binary” in nature, though this is not necessarily accurate as the loot box debate is far from two-sided.
Rowland also commented that “parents … would expect that if their children had purchased and was playing a game, and that game contained some simulated gambling, that they have a right to know about that.” This is especially true for those living at home under the age of 18, as it is the parents who should be making the decisions regarding what their children can buy.
The proposed ratings system overhaul is now being considered by parliamentarians. It is not clear when or if they will pass the reforms.
New NSW Government
The New South Wales (NSW) government has recently changed hands following the state’s election. Chris Minns, the new leader of the Australian Labor Party in NSW, is likely to be a good thing for the gambling industry. He has stated that he will take a practical approach to gambling reforms, and while he supports cashless gaming, he is in favor of further testing before a full transition.
The Prime Minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese, also a member of the Labor Party, was present in Sydney on Saturday. He then took to Twitter to congratulate Minns for his success in the election. Albanese has also voiced his support for gambling reform in the country, but stated last September that the state regulators are doing “pretty good job” and that stricter regulations are not necessary.