US State Rep Proposing Legislation to Prohibit Sale of Games With Lootboxes to Anyone Under 21

We previously reported on the micro-transaction and lootbox debacle in the gaming industry, which actually caught the attention of lawmakers and state officials. Now, the very same Hawaii state representative is proposing legislation to prohibit the sale of games with the aforementioned loot boxes and microtransactions.

Hawaii Rep. Chris Lee previously said that most games including loot box mechanics are the same thing as gambling, in particular he pointed to Star Wars Battlefront 2 when he said the game is basically “a Star Wars-themed online casino.” Now Lee is proposing legislation to curb “predatory gaming practices,” which he briefly outlines in the above video.

Among the basics of what Lee is considering featured in the video is enacting laws to prohibit the sale of video games containing “gambling mechanisms” to anyone under the age of 21, the same kind of law(s) established for traditional gambling. The law(s) would cover any game where players are purchasing a “percentage chance” to get an in-game item over the item itself.

Lee also notes that this law would cover both games purchased at retail and games obtained digitally via Steam and GOG, a point made because ESRB/PEGI ratings are not mandatory for digital storefronts.

Some game developers have already sworn off loot boxes and microtransactions that affect gameplay. However, Lee isn’t convinced that the Entertainment Software Association (the group that represents the gaming industry as a whole) or the ESRB will self-regulate these forms of gambling, as they’ve actually dismissed the suggestion that loot boxes are gambling.

Lee is even looking into legislating the rate at which developers can manipulate success percentages in games via an “accountability piece,” which he says would force game developers to reveal the percentages of drop rates for items in these loot boxes so players dumping more money into the game aren’t being fished at lower rates..”

The rest of the video has Lee asking his fellow gamers to write to their elected officials and “ask them to consider taking action to protect local families and particularly underage youth from predatory gaming practices.”

How do you feel about the entire issue? Should elected officials step in before game developers put even more components of a game behind loot box and microtransactions? Sound off in the comments below!

Brandon Orselli

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Big Papa Overlord at Niche Gamer. Italian. Dad. Outlaw fighting for a better game industry. I also write about music, food, & beer. Also an IT guy.