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Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo thinks that loot boxes in video games need to be regulated

By Tim Augustin - on 2 Sep 2019, 9:56am

Singapore Minister thinks new laws are needed to regulate loot boxes in video games

Note: This article was first published on 30th August 2019.

Singapore's Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo recently stated that loot boxes in video games are ‘novel’ gambling products and need to be regulated. 

She also emphasised that this is because gambling has changed with the younger generation, shifting away from horse-racing and slot machines to online loot boxes, saying: 

Such new products across various modes of gambling or gaming will certainly require us to put on our thinking hats, and probably take a look at the new laws we need to put in place to regulate. Regulators and law enforcement agencies need to keep up to date with these developments and make sure our policies and rules remain effective.

She also cited that global remote gambling revenue has grown 10 per cent annually from 2009 to 2016, with a revenue of US$39 billion. 

Loot boxes are all the rage now in video games, as companies like EA and Blizzard strive to monetise their games post-release. Games like Overwatch and even Apex Legends have adopted this monetisation system, where players can buy loot boxes with real money and receive randomised rewards in return. 

As such, it’s no surprise that more and more countries are turning their attention to the question: Are loot boxes a form of gambling? Belgium for example, has already taken steps to ban lootboxes. EA was forced to stop selling FIFA points in the country as a result of the ban, though players can still earn them in-game. 

Banning loot boxes can sometimes be detrimental to players, though. For example, Nintendo recently shut down support for Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Fire Emblem Heroes in Belgium due to the ban, meaning that players can’t download and play these games there anymore. 

Sure, that means minors can’t be seduced into pouring large sums of money into virtual knick-knacks anymore. Unfortunately, it also means that an entire country has been blocked from playing two games because a company was unwilling to adjust its monetisation model. 

Remember when games were a lot less complicated, and you could just log in and buy whatever specific skin you liked instead of playing slot machines whenever you levelled up?