Desire to Outlaw Gambling in Video Games Bridges Divide Between Political Parties

Two Democratic senators have pledged support of a bill that will ban the sale of loot boxes to children. Originally proposed two weeks ago by the Republican Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) this bill aims to prohibit any video games marketed towards children from implementing pay-to-win mechanisms. This bill will envelop a significant portion of projects because most video games are marketed towards minors. The bill will be titled the ‘Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act. FIFA 18 Screen 2 (700x)

The two Democratic senators to bridge the party divides are Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Sen Ed Markey (D-MA). Regarding the bill, Blumenthal states that “Congress must send a clear warning to app developers and tech companies: Children are not cash cows to exploit for profit”. Notably, both Blumenthal and Markey have previously worked on changes to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998. Under Hawley’s bill, those found guilty will face fines but no jail time. This is in contrast to legislation in other countries such as Belgium where offenders face five years imprisonment.

Many major games in the United States are facing fairly severe consequences from the bill. The Ultimate Team mode in FIFA is covered by the bill, something FIFA has apparently been quite upset about. In a recent interview with Kotaku, Hawley said: “[EA] certainly expressed their, shall we say, concern over this legislation”. This is a very political way of saying that Electronic Arts are furious.

// Interestingly, Sen. Maggie Hassan has not yet given her pledge to the bill. In a Senate committee hearing last November, Hassan asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the link between loot boxes and gambling. The fact that this issue has garnered bipartisan support indicates the importance of the bill. Children are especially susceptible to acquiring new habits and as such video games should not promote gambling. Do you think loot boxes constitute a form of gambling? SOURCE

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