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Washing State lawmakers join the loot box gambling debate

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Washing State lawmakers join the loot box gambling debate

It seems like the topic of loot boxes comes and goes in waves. The latest debate is being overseen by legislators in Washington State who will determine whether or not the controversial video game prize boxes should be considered gambling. They join lawmakers in Hawaii and Belgium who also want to control how loot box activity is included in video games.

Democratic Senator Kevin Ranker who represents Orcas Island, has introduced a bill asking state officials as well as game developers to determine if loot boxes are a form of gambling and if they take advantage of children. Ranker considers loot boxes “predatory gambling masked in a game.” In addition to Washington State, a Hawaii lawmaker proposes banning games that include loot boxes from being sold to anyone under the age of 18. In Belgium, government officials are looking into loot box mechanics in an effort to determine if the country should consider them as forms of gambling.

Developers spend huge amounts of money and dedicate countless hours to maximizing the use of loot boxes in video games. They use them as a means to attract new players and keep current players coming back. Prizes in the loot boxes range from the simple – such as an avatar or character change – to items that can change the course of play, including armor or weapons. Players have the option of purchasing a loot box without knowing what’s inside, leading to the current debate on whether or not they should be considered gambling. The most notable case involved Star Wars Battlefront II. Developers were accused of going too far with the loot boxes, and stores were obligated to remove all copies from their shelves.


Hailing from Wisconsin but arriving in Las Vegas in 1995, I'm better known at various US online poker rooms under the pen name "OreoBob" and "SoyFlush". I'm an avid poker player and editor-at-large who has contributed as a freelance writer for diverse national and international iGaming publications since 2004.

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