Labour’s Tom Watson Speaks Out Against in-game Gambling

Labour's Tom Watson Speaks Out Against in-game Gambling

Labour’s Tom Watson Speaks Out Against in-game Gambling

Labour’s Deputy Leader, Tom Watson, has aimed at the UK’s gambling legislation, referring to it as “analogue legislation not fit for the digital age”, hoping to crack down on online gambling by placing stricter limits, limits which could also apply to video games. 

The UK’s gambling regulations currently centers around the 2005 Gambling Act, which was written in a time when online gambling was not as common. This legislation references postal services more than the internet, showcasing how woefully inadequate the laws are when it comes to online gambling. 

Watson, who claims to be a gamer, has also mentioned fears that paid for items and chance-based microtransactions, also known as loot boxes, may act as a “gateway” to a future betting addiction. Critics of loot boxes have often called the in-game purchases “gambling by another name”, as real-world money can be used to purchase luck-based rewards. 

Below is a comment from Tom Watson, who believes that in-game features such as loot boxes and skin betting need to be monitored. Back in 2017, two former YouTubers, Craig Douglas and Dylan Rigby, were fined for creating an online lottery and advertising unlawful gambling. These YouTubers operated a gambling website called FUT Galaxy which used FIFA coins as a black market currency.  

    I don’t want gaming to become the gateway to gambling. It does seem to me that this might end up with the Gambling Commission.

Labour's Tom Watson Speaks Out Against in-game Gambling

Watson believes that stricter regulations need to be applied to online gambling websites and that more care needs to be taken to prevent children from being turned into problem gamblers through the influence of video games. In recent years the line between online gaming and gambling has been blurred, with the prevalence of loot boxes and other chance-based elements.

As it stands, the UK’s Gambling Commission is not responsible for in-game skins and loot boxes, though they can intervene if they believe the practice falls within areas covered by the Gambling Act. This is why Labour’s comments regarding the internet/online readiness of the Gambling Act are important. 

In late 2018 the UK’s Parliament launched their “addictive technologies inquiry“, which covers “links between gaming and gambling” amongst other topics. 

You can join the discussion on Tom Watson’s comments on in-game gambling and the UK’s Gambling legislation on the OC3D Forums.