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NHS mental health chief wants video game loot box ban

The NHS does not like loot boxes
Loot boxes have come under fire from the UK’s mental health tsar, as she calls for publishers to stop selling them to children.
It may seem an old argument to some gamers but concerns about video game loot boxes remains high, as the NHS’s mental health director calls for them to be banned in games bought by children.
‘Frankly no company should be setting kids up for addiction by teaching them to gamble on the content of these loot boxes. No firm should sell to children loot box games with this element of chance, so yes those sales should end’, said NHS mental health director Claire Murdoch in a statement .
‘Young people’s health is at stake, and although the NHS is stepping up with these new, innovative services available to families through our Long Term Plan, we cannot do this alone, so other parts of society must do what they can to limit risks and safeguard children’s wellbeing.’
The comments are the strongest stance so far against loot boxes from a UK official, as although there have been questions in parliament and concerns raised by the UK Gambling Commission they are not classified as gambling , as they are in other countries such as Belgium.

However, subsequent studies  have confirmed loot boxes as a growing problem for children in particular, with calls for them to be banned in non-18 rated games.
Murdoch seems well informed on the issue and aware that while officially there is no way to exchange loot box contents for real money a thriving black market does exist.
As such, she is calling for a ban on the sale of games with loot boxes that encourage children to gamble, realistic in-game spending limits, and an indication of the percentage chance of obtaining items – which is becoming more common due to countries like China enforcing it.
Murdoch also calls for an industry levy to support independent research on the long-term effects of gaming and ‘an effective system to keep children off age-restricted platforms and games’.
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‘As the Director of the National Centre for Gaming Disorders, the first NHS clinic to treat gaming addiction, I am fully in favour of taking a public health approach and bringing in a regulatory body to oversee the gaming industry products currently causing great concerns to parents and professionals’, adds Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones.
‘Loot boxes are only one of several features that will need to be investigated and indeed researched. We need an evidence-based approach to ensure our young people and gamers in general do not continue to be subjected to new and increasingly harmful products without our intervention.’

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