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Australian MP proposes loot box regulation bill

Australian MP Andrew Wilkie has filed a bill with the Australian government which seeks to regulate classification for games with loot boxes.

Wilkie first stated his intention to introduce the Classication Amendment (Loot Boxes) Bill last year (via Kotaku Australia). Back then, he wanted any games with loot boxes to be given a R18+ rating, and a new “advisory” classification to highlight their presence.

The bill was filed yesterday by Wilkie, and the details of it can be viewed on the Australian government’s website.

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In the bill’s first draft, Wilkie calls for any game with loot boxes to require a R18+ or RC (refused classification) label, restricting sales, purchases, and viewing to consumers aged 18 and over. The amendment would also require games to have warnings of any loot box content that can be “easily identified by parents and guardians”.

Wilkie pointed out the damaging effects of loot boxes within games, noting they encourage risk-taking and multiple purchases, emulating “many of the same emotions and experiences associated with poker machines and traditional gambling activities”, and stated concerns on how it’s easily accessible to young people and children.

The amendment bill has been moved to a second reading, where it will be debated by MPs.

If passed, Australia would join the select few countries which have taken action against loot boxes, including Belgium and the Netherlands. Reports in August suggested the ban in Belgium was being circumvented in mobile games, whilst Dutch political parties were backing a ban of loot box sales within the country in July.

Here in the UK, in July the government told game publishers it would get involved with legislation if the industry does not self-regulate, despite then-Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries admitting loot boxes pose the same risks as gambling to young people and children.

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