One of the states with the most draconian laws governing gambling in the United States, Hawaii, has now turned its attention to loot boxes, and is considering two sets of bills that would regulate casinos that carry randomized in-game item purchases. If they pass, the bills could essentially bar minors from making purchases while playing, as well as demand that these games carry public warnings and odds disclosures.
House Bill 2727 demands that game publishers disclose the odds of obtaining items from randomized loot boxes in their games. The odds will need to be made public, and will be similar to a law imposed in China last year that also covers loot boxes.
HB 2727 would require game publishers to place “a prominent, easily legible, bright red label” on games that feature loot boxes with a warning of “in-game purchases and gambling like mechanisms which may harmful or addictive.”
The other set of bills comprises of House Bill 2628 and its Senate version, where retailers will be barred from selling games that include “a system of further purchasing a randomized reward or rewards” to minors under the age of 21.
To justify the introduction of such stringent laws, the texts argue that loot boxes that are in use today “employ predatory mechanisms designed to exploit human psychology to compel players to keep spending money in the same way that casino games are designed.”
The bills cite sources such as the World Health Organization and the American Psychological Association where it was found that gaming carries the risk of addiction. The bills claim that the loot box features offer similar “psychological, addictive and financial risks at gambling.”
The text continues: “Unlike traditional card games or other games of chance, the ubiquitous reach of video games which require active, lengthy participation and exposure to the psychological manipulation techniques of exploitative loot boxes and gambling-like mechanisms presents potentially harmful risks to the financial well-being and mental health of individuals and especially of vulnerable youth and young adults.”
Washington State and Indiana have also picked up on the anti-loot box trend and have introduced similar legislation based on the ideas of Hawaii legislator Chris Lee who has chosen to head the battle against these games.