Australia Modifies Classification Rules Related To Loot Boxes And Gambling

As reported by IGN, modifications to the minimum age requirements for people to access any games that involve simulated gambling have been given the green light in Australia.

R18+ rating for any simulated gambling game:

Starting in September next year, any game that contains simulated gambling, like social casino games, will be rated R18+. The said category is legally limited in Australia, which means that games with that rating cannot be sold to individuals who aren’t 18 years of age or older. Also, the minimal rating for games that include in-game purchases associated to elements of chance, which involve paid loot boxes will be M. Games with this rating are suggested for people over 15 years of age, but this is just the suggestion because M is not under legally restricted categories.

However, these changes mentioned above will only be valid to games launching from September 2024 onward and will not be valid retrospectively.

Measure as a result of the recommendation:

In compliance with the information collected before COVID-19, “Australia has the greatest per capita gambling losses in the world, and is a staggering 40 per cent clear of second place.” Moreover, the aforementioned classification modifications were the result of a recommendation from the analysis of Australian classifications regulations from 2020 and was released during the earlier months of 2023.

The decision to bring the above-mentioned modifications into force was made throughout the recently-held Standing Council of Attorneys-General meeting, which involves the Attorneys-General from the Australian Government and every territory and state. Additionally, any modification to the National Classification Code and classification recommendations have to be agreed without objection from every individual jurisdiction under Australian law.

Not everyone is happy with the decision:

Although the decision for modification has already been published, not everyone is happy with it. In this regard, the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association of Australia expressed its displeasure with the decision and validated it would “continue to work with the relevant government departments to ensure that they appreciate the nuances involved and that there is a clear agreement on where and how these changes will be applied.”

However, the upcoming changes are the latest step taken when it comes to loot box content in games and gambling. Some of other changes are:

  • in 2022, UK authorities verified they would not be presenting loot box laws, after a 2-year investigation into their possible problem, and said that industry must make the changes itself;
  • during 2021, few US senators also turned against loot boxes by getting in touch with a dozen game operators demanding that they provide better protections to young adults from “predatory game design.”