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The UK Government and UKIE, the body for the video games and interactive entertainment industry, have today announced their plans for industry self-regulation of paid loot boxes in video games.

While some of these measures announced may to some extent mitigate the harms, that does not detract from the fact that paid loot boxes are gambling. As Children’s Commissioner, I have been clear that children need to be protected from harm online and it is my view that loot boxes should be unavailable to all children. It is not acceptable for children to be exposed to the well-evidenced harms of gambling.

Research suggests that children with offline vulnerability, such as children with learning, physical and mental health needs, as well as young carers and children in care, are more likely to experience online risks.[1] That’s why relying on parental consent will place these children at disproportionate risk of financial, emotional, and other harms associated with loot boxes. Alongside this, throughout my work on protecting children from online harms, parents have told me that they struggle to effectively understand and engage with the parental control options that they are presented with.

I do not consider that these industry-led regulatory measures sufficiently protect children. I will be assessing UKIE and the industry’s commitment to their proposed measures to ensure that children and young people are protected online, and continue to monitor the case for increased regulation.

[1] Katz, El Asam (2018), Vulnerable Children in a Digital World, Link,

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