New mandatory minimum classifications for gambling-like games content

The Albanese Government will introduce mandatory minimum classifications for computer games containing gambling-like content from September 2024, following unanimous agreement from the states and territories.
 
The move follows Friday’s meeting of the Standing Council of Attorneys-General, where all states and territories agreed to updated Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games 2023, and is an important step in ensuring children are protected from gambling harm.
 
The changes mean that computer games containing in-game purchases linked to elements of chance, such as paid loot boxes, will receive a minimum classification of M (Mature – not recommended for children under 15 years of age).
 
Computer games containing simulated gambling, such as social casino games, will be legally restricted to adults only with a minimum classification of R18+.
 
The changes respond to growing community concerns about the potential harms of children accessing gambling-like content in computer games. Research commissioned by the Australian Government has found links between in-game purchases, loot boxes, simulated gambling and gambling harm.
 
Further recent research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies found that young people who played simulated gambling games were 40 per cent more likely to spend real money on gambling as young adults.
 
The new Games Guidelines were developed following a public consultation process alongside targeted discussions with key industry and community stakeholders, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), the Classification Board and States and Territories. They will come into effect in September 2024, to give industry time to adjust to the changes.
 
The Albanese Government is committed to protecting vulnerable Australians from gambling harm, including by introducing legislation to ban the use of credit cards for online wagering and launching the National Self-Exclusion Register – Betstop. The changes to the Games Guidelines also represent further progress in the Government’s work to modernise the National Classification Scheme, alongside the passage of the Classification Amendment Bill earlier this month.
 
Consultation on a second stage of classification reforms, which will clarify the Scheme’s purpose and scope, establish fit-for-purpose regulatory and governance arrangements, and improve the responsiveness of the Scheme to evolving community standards and expectations, is expected to commence later this year.
 
Quotes attributable to Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP:
 
"The Albanese Government is determined to protect vulnerable Australians from gambling harms - including children who may be exposed to gambling through video games.

“I thank the States and Territories for joining with us to make real changes that will protect children from gambling-like content through these changes to our classification scheme.
 
“Research shows that children exposed to gambling-like content may be more vulnerable to gambling harm later in life – and we are determined to intervene early to keep children safe.

“These changes represent another step in our work to modernise the National Classification Scheme so that Australians can make better informed choices about what they – and those in their care – watch, read and play.”