NHS bosses want a ban on video game add-ons as some kids are gambling up to £2,000 to feed their “addiction”.
Some games, such as Fortnite, let players buy “loot boxes” containing prizes that help them progress or improve their experience.
But they often have no idea what the reward will be, which encourages users to keep spending. Health chiefs warn video game firms risk “setting kids up for addiction” and are turning a generation of youngsters into gamblers.
In response to the crisis, the NHS has set up clinics to treat gaming and social media addiction for children as young as 13.
The first patients started therapy earlier this month.
'SETTING KIDS UP FOR ADDICTION'
NHS mental health director Claire Murdoch said gaming firms must ban loot box sales to kids.
And she wants to see the introduction of “fair and realistic” spending limits for adults.
The NHS is also calling for a regulator to oversee the gaming industry.
Ms Murdoch said: “Frankly, no company should be setting kids up for addiction by teaching them to gamble on the content of these boxes.
“No firm should sell to children loot box games with this element of chance, so yes those sales should end. Young people’s health is at stake.”
The NHS said in some cases kids spent cash without their parents’ knowledge, with one teen racking up £2,000 losses on a basketball game.
The Association for UK Interactive Entertainment said it “acknowledges some are concerned” so launched its Get Smart About PLAY campaign. It aims to help parents manage play online “including loot boxes”.
Fortnite maker Epic Games has been approached for comment.
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