Councillors are warning parents about in-game gambling ahead of a Christmas when many children will be unwrapping new video games and games consoles on Christmas day.
Councillor Ian Lindley, portfolio holder for children, education and young people, and Councillor Ron Shepherd, portfolio holder for safer and stronger communities at North East Lincolnshire Council, have issued the warning following a campaign by the Royal Society for Public Health.
The campaign sets out the dangers of in-game gambling and so-called loot boxes.
What are loot boxes?
Loot boxes are found commonly in video games, and players are encouraged to buy the boxes for a chance to unlock extra content for the game. This could be new weapons or characters.
Children are often required to spend money in-game to unlock new story lines or adventures. These costs are additional to the original cost of the game itself.
In a joint statement, Councillor Ian Lindley and Councillor Ron Shepherd said: “Many youngsters in our area will likely be unwrapping new games consoles and video games this Christmas, and lots of parents will be unaware of these in-game purchases and the fact that by Boxing Day, their child could be gambling away their money whilst playing their new games.
“These purchases can amount to huge sums when you factor in the original costs of the games themselves, along with the amount that you would probably have to spend on these loot boxes to get some of the more sought-after prizes.
“Parents need to be aware of these microtransactions so they can monitor what their children are doing. You can set spending limits on games consoles so you don’t wake up to a hefty bill, and talk to your children to explain the dangers and risks of gambling.”
Young gamers in the UK spent approximately £270 million on those microtransactions in 2019.
For more information, visit the YGAM (Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust) website, which is dedicated for parents to inform, educate and safeguard: www.parents.ygam.org.