'Loot Boxes' Declared Gambling by Belgium GC & Hawaii HoR, Both Seek Bans in Europe and the US

Loot_Box.jpg


In a very sudden development on the hot-button topic of 'loot boxes' and gambling in video games, the Belgium Gaming Commission has completed their investigation on the matter and have concluded that in-game 'loot boxes' are a form of gambling, and will likely be banned in Belgium. This could entail hundreds of thousands of Euros in fines towards Electronic Arts and other offending companies, as well as a ban on sales of games with loot boxes until companies acquire a gambling license or remove the feature from their games. What's more, Belgium is seeking to classify loot boxes as gambling across the entirety of Europe. Currently, the Dutch Gambling Authority has launched a similar investigation.

The Belgium Gaming Commission's statement roughly read, "The mixing of money and addiction is gambling." Belgium's Minister of Justice also chimed in, saying, "Mixing gambling and gaming, especially at a young age, is dangerous for the mental health of the child."

Following quickly after, and in a highly unexpected move, Hawaii House of Representatives rep. Chris Lee (D) held a press conference where he announced that the State of Hawaii would be introducing legislation to curb the "predatory behavior" of companies like Electronic Arts. He explicitly mentions Battlefront 2, calling it a "Star Wars-themed online casino, designed to lure kids into spending money." Highlights from that press conference can be seen here:



Lee said that new legislation in the coming year will target predatory microtransaction practices and that Hawaii would be speaking with other states to introduce similar legislation elsewhere in the United States. Parents also took the podium at the press conference to express their own concerns about loot boxes and microtransactions. Lee later wrote a Reddit post explaining the announcement, which can be read in its entirety by following this link. In the post, he calls on US citizens to contact their state legislatures and demand action against predatory microtransaction practices in the gaming industry.

The speed at which regulatory bodies are reacting to the loot box controversy is astounding. These developments come in the wake of EA's botched microtransaction scheme in Star Wars: Battlefront II that led to a Reddit post by an EA representative becoming the most downvoted comment in the website's history, prompting Disney to intervene and garnering mainstream media coverage on popular news outlets like CNN. This spells trouble not just for EA, but for all major publishers, including Activision-Blizzard, Ubisoft, 2K Games, and any other company engaging in 'loot box' practices and predatory microtransaction schemes.

Oh, how the tides turn.

:arrow: Source 1
:arrow: Source 2
:arrow: Source 3
:arrow: Source 4
 
Last edited by HaloEliteLegend,

Meteor7

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You know, when they focus so heavily on buzz-phrases like "family" and "protecting children", while also bringing in a representative to talk about religion's view on the matter, of all things, I can't help but feel a chill. I'm very much against these kinds of practices being implemented in video games, but I can't help but feel like I'm unintentionally on the side of the typical, overly-frenzied mommies and church people, who can't or don't think beyond the walls of their own skull, being whipped up in fear mongering and desperately pressing for legislation that ends up putting more of a restriction on the typical citizen than any companies. I don't know, but when my side is being argued in part by an old, blank-faced religious man coming onto television and proclaiming "this is EVIL!!!", I can't help but feel more than a little uneasy. That being said, I am still tentatively glad that the lootbox mechanic is at least getting some attention, even if I worry this whole craze may become a runaway train.
 

HaloEliteLegend

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You know, when they focus so heavily on buzz-phrases like "family" and "protecting children", while also bringing in a representative to talk about religion's view on the matter, of all things, I can't help but feel a chill. I'm very much against these kinds of practices being implemented in video games, but I can't help but feel like I'm unintentionally on the side of the typical, overly-frenzied mommies and church people, who can't or don't think beyond the walls of their own skull, being whipped up in fear mongering and desperately pressing for legislation that ends up putting more of a restriction on the typical citizen than any companies. I don't know, but when my side is being argued in part by an old, blank-faced religious man coming onto television and proclaiming "this is EVIL!!!", I can't help but feel more than a little uneasy. That being said, I am still tentatively glad that the lootbox mechanic is at least getting some attention, even if I worry this whole craze may become a runaway train.
I think microtransactions in the gaming industry is a realm where government regulation is sorely needed. I'm opposed to government overreach like the next guy, but in this situation, regulations are needed to protect children and adults from the dangers of gambling, just like with casinos. The gaming industry is highly unregulated, and while regulations aren't always a good thing, I don't see any other way to curb big corporations' predatory practices in games.
 

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I think microtransactions in the gaming industry is a realm where government regulation is sorely needed. I'm opposed to government overreach like the next guy, but in this situation, regulations are needed to protect children and adults from the dangers of gambling, just like with casinos. The gaming industry is highly unregulated, and while regulations aren't always a good thing, I don't see any other way to curb big corporations' predatory practices in games.
It's not the regulations I'm against, at least not as they're being currently discussed, but the intentions and reasoning behind them that makes me uncomfortable. One of the arguments in a video put out by an official body of government really shouldn't be 'Hi I'm religion and we think this is devilry.', you know? It just... doesn't sit right. It makes me concerned that they aren't truly understanding the issue, or going about introducing these regulations for all the right reasons, and that it could easily turn into something harmful down the line just by way of that ignorance and misdirection. Then again, perhaps I'm just being overly paranoid.
 

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It's not the regulations I'm against, at least not as they're being currently discussed, but the intentions and reasoning behind them that makes me uncomfortable. One of the arguments in a video put out by an official body of government really shouldn't be 'Hi I'm religion and we think this is devilry.', you know? It just... doesn't sit right. It makes me concerned that they aren't going about introducing these regulations for all the right reasons, and that it could easily turn into something harmful down the line just by way of that ignorance and misdirection. Then again, perhaps I'm just being overly paranoid.
That wasn't an official government body. After Representative Chris Lee spoke, the people who followed are just everyday citizens. Moms and church leaders. They're put in front of the podium to give wider appeal to their message. Y'know, to speak to families and people's morality to support the new legislation. Again, only the first person who spoke is actually with the government.

I think the intentions are right. Perhaps you misinterpreted, thinking the other people were also representatives?
 
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KingVamp

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I feel all good inside. Hopefully this leads to more regulation on bad gaming practices. Now if only we could get more of this for Net Neutrality.

That said, depending on hard they go, this could effect mobile too. That's including games like Fire Hero Emblem and Pocket Camp. I'm not sure how far I want them to take this.
 

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Lol. I remember raising that gambling legality in the thread where everyone was complaining about lootboxes. If I had actually contacted authorities about it, I would've feel so proud of myself right now (but alas...I gotta admit I don't care enough about people dumb enough to buy EA games to want to help them).

It's not the regulations I'm against, at least not as they're being currently discussed, but the intentions and reasoning behind them that makes me uncomfortable. One of the arguments in a video put out by an official body of government really shouldn't be 'Hi I'm religion and we think this is devilry.', you know? It just... doesn't sit right. It makes me concerned that they aren't truly understanding the issue, or going about introducing these regulations for all the right reasons, and that it could easily turn into something harmful down the line just by way of that ignorance and misdirection. Then again, perhaps I'm just being overly paranoid.
I understand what you mean. Gambling isn't "just" a problem for minors or families. In fact, I think extra credits had a video on whales (=the name of the target group who spend way too much money on a single game) where they point out that singles are actually more likely to become gambling victims than children (they have more money and time, and aren't supervised). Despite this, this regulation and/or ban apparently only helps them by accident.

Yet another situation where people take video games too seriously smh
Have you ever seen someone with a real gambling addiction? I have, and it's not pretty. And even though I've only seen one (maybe more, but one I vividly remember), it's enough to have these sorts of legislations. That person would literally gamble away all she had if she was given the chance. She didn't exactly LIKE to gamble anymore, but it had become an urge she could only really stop by not going to places where gambling was allowed. For people like her, I would prohibit games involving gambling (with real money).
 
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