Washington Senator Looks to Regulate Gambling in Video Games


You might want to take another look at the new video game you purchased for your kids this past Christmas. A recent development has given parents reason for concern, as the video game industry might be helping your child develop gambling habits.


Back in November of 2017, Electronic Arts, a video game publishing company came under fire for their controversial release of the video game, Star Wars Battlefront 2. The game was created around a system known as loot boxes. These loot boxes are an additional purchasing option for players to get their hands on additional content, but that content is not guaranteed but randomized.

Over the past several years the loot box system has been a method for developers to extract additional revenue from their users. However in the case of Star Wars Battlefront 2, these loot boxes were implemented as a core part of the gameplay, forcing players to pay extra or be left behind. This brought about a worldwide outcry as finally people recognized these loot boxes for what they are, gambling. Not only are loot boxes a form of gambling but they also target the youth population.

To Washington State Senator Kevin Ranker, of the 40th district, loot boxes are no different than gambling. On January 11th Ranker submitted Senate Bill 6266, which would force the Washington State Gambling Commission to regulate games that are released and use loot boxes or other forms of in game or app purchases. If this Bill were to pass, Washington would join the ranks of Hawaii, where a similar bill is currently being developed. This all comes on the heels of Belgium banning the sale of Star Wars Battlefront 2 and other games that contain loot boxes.

If Washington State defines Loot boxes as gambling, then expect many games to be requiring a purchasing age of 18 or even 21. So for parents out there whose kids are avid gamers, keep an eye out to what they are playing and if the game has loot boxes, as it could develop gambling habits.