Regulators Cracking Down on Gambling and Loot Boxes in Australia

For players of video games in Australia that feature loot boxes or simulated gambling, some regulatory changes may soon be going into effect. Classifications would change for games with simulated gambling or loot boxes in Australia. The goal of these changes is to make it harder for minors to purchase them.

Gambling in all forms is very popular in Australia. Along with gambling in video games, players enjoy logging into sites like Ignition online casino to play their favorite games of chance. These new regulatory changes would not impact gamblers on those platforms, as they already restrict their services to adult players.

What is Changing with Regulations for Loot Boxes in Australia

To help you understand the potential new regulations for simulated gambling and loot boxes in Australia, let’s take a look at what the government has to say. A government statement released in March declares, “The Commonwealth will seek the agreement of States and Territories to introduce a mandatory minimum classification of R 18+ (Restricted to 18 and over) for games which contain simulated gambling and M (Mature – not recommended for persons under 15 years) for computer games containing paid loot boxes.”

Take note that this statements says “the Commonwealth will seek.” In other words, these changes are not yet law. As of July this year, we see no updates. That means that regulators are still seeking to take these actions, but they have not gone into effect.

Let’s be clear about what both of these new rating classifications would mean if they do go through.

The M rating is a strong suggestion, but not a restriction on sales. In other words, a minor can still purchase an M-rated video game in Australia. So, minors will still have the option to buy video games that contain loot boxes. What the new rating will accomplish is increasing their parents’ awareness of the fact that the games feature loot boxes if the parents are the ones shopping.

The R 18+ classification is much more serious than the M rating. This classification is an actual restriction. Someone trying to buy a game with this classification would need to show their ID. If they are under 18, the store will not be able to sell them the game. Remember, this would apply to games with a  “simulated gambling” mechanic.

For additional information about the system of classifications, see this page provided by the Australian government.

What Happens Next?

All the states and territories would need to give unanimous approval to the new regulations for them to go into effect. If that happens, every game with loot boxes will receive a rating of M. All games with simulated gambling would get a rating of R 18+.

As an example, a minor would no longer be able to buy Red Dead Redemption 2, because it contains simulated poker and other gambling games. Their parent would need to buy it for them.

To say that is harsh is an understatement. Simulated gambling is just one element in this rich open world game, which offers many amazing experiences that players young and old should be able to enjoy.

The good news is that it will be a while before the states and territories vote on this measure. So, these restrictions will not go into place immediately (if they even pass).

Where Else Can Australians Gamble Online?

If these regulatory changes do pass, the only people they will really affect will be minors. Parents of minors should be setting strict limits on their loot box access anyway. The R 18+ for games with simulated gambling is a bit much though. In our opinion, it seems pretty backwards. Loot boxes are actual gambling with real money; simulated gambling is not.

Australian adults can of course continue to buy video games with ease that feature loot boxes or gambling themes. They also have the option of signing up at Australian online casinos and sportsbooks.

On online sportsbooks, Australians can wager on popular sports like Australian football, association football, cricket, tennis, basketball, baseball, NFL and more. At online casinos, they can play games like blackjack, slots, roulette, baccarat and others. These sites also offer generous bonuses and promotions for new and returning players.

Not surprisingly, online gambling has also taken off with New Zealand players. Over the coming years, we expect the popularity of online gambling to continue to increase. It is also likely that the overlap between gambling and video games will continue to grow.

Although we think that regulators are going a bit far with R 18+ ratings for certain video games, we are glad that they are increasing awareness of gambling among minors.

Adult gamblers in Australia would do well to teach their children about the importance of money management and emotional regulation as well as how to avoid falling into problem gambling.