The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is investigating a ‘loot box’ site that has been heavily promoted by high profile YouTube celebrities to determine whether regulatory action is appropriate.
The Mystery Brand site has been advertised by Jake Paul and Brian Le, and offers visitors unidentified prizes in exchange for money. In the videos posted by Paul and Le, they are seen spending thousands of dollars, clicking on an array of virtual boxes.
The site, which is based in Poland, offer boxes for a range of prices, from £2 to over £1000, which are further divided into categories. The categories include Apple products, clothing and games consoles, and the YouTube videos show customers winning Converse trainers and an iPhone XS smartphone.
A spokesperson for the site said that it offered a similar product to the monthly subscription service offered by other companies, which involve the delivery of ‘mystery’ boxes:
Mystery Brand is not much different from those projects, except for the fact that we make the whole process of buying and receiving items from a Mystery Box fast and transparent in real time.”
But any UKGC action is likely to hinge on whether the site is considered to be a gambling site. Mysterybrand.net does not currently have a Gambling Commission licence, and in the UK, any site is forbidden from targeting their services at under-25s. Both the YouTubers who advertised the site are under that age, but UKGC has said that they as they are based in the US and do not appear to be actively targeting UK customers, they will not be taking action against the individuals.
The mystery boxes offered by the company are similar to the loot boxes that have proven to be so controversial in the video game world. Last year, the Belgian authorities ruled that loot boxes in video games were in violation of the country’s gambling laws.
Andie Hughes is a UK-based freelance betting and gambling writer with over a decade of experience in the industry, having written for Betfair, ESPN, Boylesports, Sporting Life and various other popular betting sites. Contact Andie at firstname.lastname@example.org.