Lisa Cheban | 17 April, 2023 10:49 | Last update on: 17 April, 2023 10:49
Australia has been cracking down on illegal gaming activities like underage gambling and money laundering. The country keeps introducing new regulatory measures, with the latest move targeting video games with gambling-related elements.
Reports say video games that simulate gambling will soon have an R18+ rating as part of a new initiative to safeguard minors and problem gamblers. The federal government will also look to amend classification guidelines so that all games featuring paid loot boxes must have at least a Mature or M-rating. If this regulation is successful, it could impact popular titles like the FIFA game series.
As concerns grow about more gambling-related components in video games, the action will help quell fears about kids getting exposed to casino-style games. The new regulation’s proponents contend there is a connection between those who engage in virtual gambling and those who engage in real money gambling online or offline.
According to Australia’s Communications Minister, Michelle Rowland, the proposals, which must receive approval from all regions before progressing, are intended to alleviate worries that these games would tempt young gamers to switch to real money gambling.
ABC News reported the minister saying the effects of simulated gambling were a topic of growing community concern. She gave an example of parents who have all the right to know if the video games their kids purchase and play have any gambling-related content. If approved, the new proposals may also prevent those under 18 from buying video games with simulated gambling.
Rowland remarked, “We want to be very clear and very binary in this regard, and the certainty that is provided by a proposal that says if there is simulated gambling in a game, then it is subject to a particular rating. That is the clearest indication that we can give not only to consumers, but also to industry.”
Interestingly, some quarters want even more stringent limitations. Liberal National Party MP, Andrew Wallace, and independent legislators, Rebekha Sharkie and Andrew Wilkie, are calling for loot box games to be available to adults only. Given how accessible M-rated gaming products are, Wilkie, claims that rating games with loot boxes as “M” will result in more youngsters between 15 and 18 years continuing to be exposed to gambling simulations.
So, what are loot boxes? These video game features allow players to exchange in-game items like armour, weapons, and avatar modification options. These items’ popularity has increased recently as game producers try to increase revenue through in-game purchases. However, they attract controversies, with some saying that these features specifically target children and teenagers. Interestingly, some video games, notably Fortnite, have already removed loot boxes.
The planned classification scheme will be decided after consultations with state authorities, the local community, and businesses. The parliament is currently investigating how simulated gambling games are controlled to find any correlation with gambling.