Video games draw fire over 'lucky draws'

Top News | Erin Chan 17 Jun 2021

Lawmakers pressed authorities to step up scrutiny of "virtual lucky draws" in video games, as they can lead to addiction and irrational spending in youngsters.

Speaking at yesterday's Legislative Council meeting, Heung Yee Kuk chairman Kenneth Lau Ip-keung slammed authorities for not setting an age limit for virtual lucky draws.

"Teenagers and even children can use point cards or their parent's credit cards, increasing their chances of taking part in gambling," he said."They may develop a gambling addiction in future."

Lau said the addiction to virtual lucky draws might worsen when game developers sweetened the deal by offering other rewards, such as those labeled as "first-time, time-limited or exclusive."

Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong lawmaker Vincent Cheng Wing-shun recommended police set up a task force to inspect whether such lucky draws in video games involve gambling.

Asked about measures to help gamers quit their addiction, Secretary for Home Affairs Caspar Tsui Ying-wai said they were already in place.

Tsui said an advisory group, comprising those from the Education Bureau, Social Welfare Department, Department of Health and Hong Kong Academy of Medicine - was set up in 2013 to oversee the health effects of internet usage and is set to publish a report next year.

The Department of Health also provides an adolescent health program covering topics such as healthy use of the internet, he said.

Tsui added that the Education Bureau had equipped teachers and social workers with training and materials on preventing internet addiction.

But he sidestepped the question of whether the government would consider classifying virtual lucky draws gambling activities under the Gambling Ordinance.

Tsui noted that the Customs and Excise Department had received 30 complaints about virtual lucky draws over the past six years, while the Consumer Council did not keep such records.

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