4H Materials

Irish child gambling report «deeply troubling", says minister

According to iGB, the Irish government minister in charge of gambling policy has called the findings of a report on children and gambling “deeply troubling”.

Ivan Kurochkin, Partner and one of the founders of 4H, comments on the situation:

"Over the past month, each week has brought news from around the world regarding various issues related to responsible gambling. This week, news from Ireland has drawn our attention to the issue of underage gambling. Key findings in the report indicate that 22.9 percent of 16-year-olds in Ireland have gambled for money in the past 12 months, with 23.1 percent of them engaging in online gambling.

Following this report, Irish officials emphasize the importance of focusing on a new bill, which aims, among other things, to address advertising restrictions. These restrictions should limit the exposure of underage individuals to the gambling industry. While limiting advertising targeting underage individuals is crucial, there are also other important issues that need to be addressed.

It is worth noting that virtual "loot boxes" and other features in video games that are accessible to underage individuals are causing significant harm and require attention in the new bill. According to the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), approximately 12,000 Irish people are estimated to be "problem gamblers."

From our perspective, the issue does not lie solely in the existence or popularity of loot boxes. The problem lies in the fact that activities where video game players can receive randomized rewards for good performance or through real-money transactions are completely unregulated and can involve children of all ages.

As an illustration, in January 2023, the European Parliament endorsed a report advocating for unified regulations within the EU to bolster player safeguards within the online gaming sector. This report placed significant emphasis on addressing the issue of loot boxes. Additionally, it made reference to a study released by the Norwegian Consumer Council in May 2022, underscoring the continued impact of loot boxes on the gaming industry. Notably, this study received backing from 20 consumer organizations spanning 18 European countries.

Certain regions have already taken substantial measures against loot boxes, predating the aforementioned reports. Belgium stands out as an example, having implemented a strict stance. In 2018, the Belgian Gaming Commission published a report asserting that all loot boxes acquired with real-world currency qualify as forms of gambling, irrespective of whether they are directed towards minors or adults.

In conclusion, we observe that regulators are beginning to acknowledge the issue of loot boxes and are implementing restrictions by classifying the provision of loot boxes as a form of gambling".