Loot boxes in video games have been something of a contentious topic for a while now, and the UK's House of Lords ("The House of Lords Select Committee on the Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry", to be precise) has just added its voice to the conversation, suggesting that the UK Government "must act immediately to bring loot boxes within the remit of gambling legislation and regulation."
The report states:
There is academic research which proves that there is a connection, though not necessarily a causal link, between loot box spending and problem gambling. We echo the conclusions of the Children's Commissioner's report, that if a product looks like gambling and feels like gambling, it should be regulated as gambling. The liberalisation of gambling by the Gambling Act 2005, the universal adoption of smartphones, and the exploitation of soft-touch regulation by gambling operators has created a perfect storm of addictive 24/7 gambling.
Should the UK Government take heed of these suggestions, it would join Belgium in treating loot boxes as a form of gambling.
EA is one of the biggest supporters of loot box mechanics via its popular FIFA series, stating that it considers them to be "surprises" which are perfectly ethical. However, some games, like Rocket League, have ditched them entirely.