It seems the controversy surrounding loot boxes has extended to 2018, as United States lawmakers are looking to dig deeper into the nature of the in-game feature.
According to a Gamespot report, three senators from Washington State have filed a bill seeking to determine if the controversial loot boxes equate to gambling. Senate Bill 6266 in the Washington Legislature that was filed by Democratic Sens. Kevin Ranker, Reuven Carlyle, and Karen Keiser, asks the state to probe into the matter.
The bill was introduced last Jan. 11 and eventually referred to the committee on Labor and Commerce. Moreover, a public hearing is slated to be done by the same committee on Jan. 31, the report noted. According to the bill's details, it is "an act relating to loot boxes and similar types of mechanisms in online games and apps," wherein studies will be conducted to determine if they constitute to gambling under the laws of Washington.
Furthermore, the bill also aims to address "a number of serious problems and concerns" that were raised in relation to the use of loot boxes and other similar or related mechanisms. The bill also seeks to determine if "minors and other young people, who may be more vulnerable to gambling addiction, should have access to games and apps with these mechanisms."
The bill also seeks to determine if there is a "lack of disclosure and transparency" in the part of the game developers when it comes to "the odds of receiving each type of virtual item." Once the bill is enacted, it will prompt the Washington state gambling commission to conduct a study by gathering valuable information related to the aforementioned problems. In addition, the bill also gave the commission a deadline of "not later than December 1, 2018" to present their findings and present their recommendations.
Confusion has also surrounded the loot boxes issue, as different sectors, as well as countries have expressed varying opinions on the matter. Last December, the Compliance department of New Zealand's Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) said in a statement that the loot boxes "do not meet the legal definition of gambling."