As video game technology develops we need to look at different aspects of gaming and caution young people of the costs involved, Fine Gael TD Martin Heydon has said.

Deputy Heydon said: “The gaming industry is growing exponentially and there is much concern about the harm, in particular to young adults, from loot boxes and mystery boxes.

“Some $30 billion was reportedly spent on loot boxes in 2018 alone, and the gaming industry is predicted to have a value of $160 billion by 2022, 47% of which will be generated from micro-transactions such as loot boxes. It is clear that improved regulation is needed.

“Countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands, the Isle of Man, China, Japan and Australia have treated loot boxes and mystery boxes as a form of gambling. Regulators are investigating the matter in 15 other areas, one of which is the US Federal Trade Commission, which is investigating pay-to-win and gameplay systems.

“While parental control is important, and I accept that gambling problems are covered by the Department of Health, it is incumbent on the Department of Justice and Equality, as regulator, to make a start on better protecting our young people.

“If somebody is susceptible to problem gambling, this type of gaming is a bad way to start as a young adult. If there are ways we can restrict that and make young adults safer in their gaming, we must take every step,” the Fine Gael TD said.

“I have raised the issue with Minister David Stanton and he agreed with the necessity of continuing to monitor these games closely. This is something that the Minister and the Department of Justice are considering in the context of the upcoming review of the Gaming and Lottery Act (1956) and the Gambling Control Bill, the heads of both Bills due before Cabinet this spring,” the Fine Gael TD said.” the Fine Gael TD said.