Australia wants minimum age on video games simulating gambling

A new bill has been introduced in Australia regarding loot boxes and games in which gambling is simulated. The bill wants to raise the minimum age of games with loot boxes. In addition, social casino games should be labeled as gambling. Currently, these apps are still considered video games in Australia.

The discussion surrounding video games offering loot boxes has taken a new turn in Australia. The Australian government has made a new proposal to stick a new age rating on these games. It is another step in tackling online gambling and things that would encourage gambling. Australia already introduced new warning texts for online gambling in November.

The new bill targets not only video games that contain loot boxes, but also video games that simulate gambling and so-called social casino games. These are apps in which slots can be played with fictitious money, but this fictitious money can be purchased with real money.

New ratings

The new ratings on video games should ensure that minors are less likely to come into contact with loot boxes and the simulation of gambling. The government wants to add an “M” rating to games that include loot boxes. This M stands for mature and means that the game in question is discouraged for players 15 years old or younger. This is a different approach than was suggested last year. Back then, the plan was to make loot box games for adults only.

Games that simulate gambling include video games that feature casinos. According to the proposal, however, these games should have an 18+ rating. This would prevent minors from purchasing the games themselves. The Australian government believes that parents should have more control over such purchases. Minors will only be able to purchase these games if their parents give permission.

Social casino games

Finally, the discussion also goes beyond video games, as so-called social casino games also receive attention in the bill. After all, these apps operate in a gray area in many countries. After all, they are slot machines, but because they do not involve gambling with real money, they are often not labeled as gambling games.

According to many opponents of (online) gambling, these apps should simply be labeled as gambling sites. These apps are currently still considered “video games,” and the bill should change this.

The ABCnews item reveals that many of these social casino games are made by online gambling companies such as Caesars and Aristocrat Gaming. The fictional slots in the apps have the same layout and name as real slots. This would lead players to believe that the real slots have the same payout rates as the fictitious slots in the apps.

Research on the effects of these social casino games was conducted back in 2015. The study looked at players of these games who had never gambled with real money before. This study showed that 26% made the switch to online gambling after playing these social casino games. It is one of the reasons why the government in Australia now wants to ensure that these apps are considered gambling, and not video games.