Australia is set to introduce new regulations aimed at restricting access to video games with gambling-like elements, including loot boxes, for children. The changes are scheduled to take effect in September 2024, following approval from the Albanese government.
Under the new rules, video games containing simulated gambling, including social casino games, will receive an R18+ restricted classification. This classification means that individuals under the age of 18 will not legally be allowed to access such content, as it is deemed unsuitable for children.
Additionally, the regulations will introduce an M-mature advisory classification for games featuring payable features like loot boxes and in-game purchases. While this advisory classification is not legally restrictive, it serves as a warning to parents and legal guardians about potential risks associated with such products when deciding whether to allow their children to play them. It’s important to note that these changes will not apply retrospectively.
The decision to implement these changes follows a three-week public consultation earlier this year, which revealed growing concerns within the community about children being exposed to gambling-like features in video games. The move aligns with recommendations from the Neville Stevens Review, which urged the former Australian government to introduce video game classification measures to protect children from the harms associated with gambling-like content.
Australia’s Minister for Communications, Michelle Rowland, emphasized that video games often expose children to gambling-like features, raising concerns about potential harm and addiction. Research conducted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies found a link between games featuring gambling-like elements and problems related to gambling and other forms of harm. Rowland stated that the new regulations aim to empower Australians to make informed decisions about the content suitable for their children.
The Albanese government’s commitment to reducing gambling-related harm and restricting access to gambling-like elements in video games underscores the importance of protecting young individuals from potentially harmful content.
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