New House bill seeks stronger laws for video game ratings

Jan 18, 2013
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New House bill seeks stronger laws for video game ratings

After the violent shootings in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut recently, many lawmakers are pointing at violent video games as the culprit. Just a couple of days ago, a Missouri lawmaker submitted a bill that seeks to levy a tax on violent video games sales. This time around, a Utah House Representative wants to ban video games that don't have an ESRB rating, as well as enforce stricter laws to prevent the sale of violent video games to minors.

The bill, submitted by House Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah), calls for several changes to the sale of violent video games. The first one would be to ban any video game without an official ESRB rating, the second would be to make it completely illegal to sell high-rated video games to minors. Currently, it's up to the retailers whether or not they choose to sell violent video games to gamers under 18.

The bill would also make it a requirement for retailers to display information from the Federal Trade Commission about the ESRB's rating system in a "clear and conspicuous location." These changes would have little effect on the video game market anyway, since most major retailers already refuse to carry games that don't have an ESRB rating, and also won't sell violent video games to minors. However, the proposed bill would make it a punishable crime if retailers were to fail to comply with video game ratings, rather than an ethics issue dealt by the retailers themselves. Under the submitted bill, the Federal Trade Commission would enforce penalties of up to $5,000 per violation.

Of course, bills like this have been proposed in the past, and were unsurprisingly shot down, mostly because the Supreme Court ruled that video games are protected under the First Amendment, and if Matheson's bill ended up passing, it would violate that amendment. So, while it seems that lawmakers are working hard to get these bills passed, it doesn't seem that their efforts will be worth it at this point.

[via USA Today]


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