European Gambling Regulators Team-Up to Stop Loot Boxes

15 gambling regulators from Europe and Washington, United States will work together to identify “the risks created by the blurring of lines between gaming and gambling.”  Below are the specific participants from each country.

Signatories to the “declaration of gambling regulators on their concerns related to the blurring of lines between gambling and gaming”.

  • Austria: Alfred Hacker, Director, Federal Ministry of Finance
  • Czech Republic: Karel Blaha, Director of the State Oversight Over Gambling Department
  • France: Charles Coppolani, Chair of the French Online Gaming Regulatory Authority
  • Gibraltar: Andrew Lyman, Executive Director, Gambling Division, HM Government of Gibraltar
  • Ireland: Brendan Mac Namara, Principal Officer, Gambling Policy Division, Department of Justice and Equality of Ireland
  • Isle of Man: Steve Brennan, Chief Executive, Gambling Supervision Commission
  • Jersey: Jason Lane, Chief Executive, Jersey Gambling Commission
  • Latvia: Signe Birne, Director of Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection of Latvia
  • Malta: Heathcliff Farrugia, Chief Executive Officer, Malta Gaming Authority
  • The Netherlands: Jan Suyver, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Netherlands Gambling Authority
  • Norway: Henrik Nordal, Director Deputy General, Norwegian Gaming Authority
  • Poland: Paweł Gruza, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Finance
  • Portugal: Teresa Monteiro, Vice-President of Turismo de Portugal, I.P
  • Spain: Juan Espinosa García, CEO, Directorate General for Gambling Regulation
  • Washington State: David Trujillo, Director, Washington State Gambling Commission
  • UK: Neil McArthur, Chief Executive Officer, UK Gambling Commission

sweden-lootboxes-gambling

They will be targetting sites that promote gambling with video games. They will investigate sites that involve in-game skin gambling. These websites have users gambling their in-game skins rather than money. However, the skins have monetary values and can be considered gambling. The Telegraph reported over 400,00 British teens admitted to using similar websites.

The European Gambling Regulators will also identify whether loot boxes are considered gambling under national law. The laws are targetted towards parents and children. By identifying the lines between gambling and in-game items, parents should have a better understanding of their kids’ purchases.

I don’t think loot boxes will go away anytime soon but gaming companies will have to respond or adjust it before more laws are set in place.

Sources:

Eurogamer

Telegraph – 400,000 British teens lured into under-aged gambling through video games

Government pushes the ESRB over Loot Box classification and Addiction

Earlier this week, I reported on Hawaii’s representative introduced two bills to regulate distribution of video games with loot boxes. The bills would require games to have a label identifying that it contains loot boxes and would only allow sales of those games to 21+. Today, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), question the Federal Tech Commission (FTC) about loot boxes and wrote a letter to the head of the ESRB, Patricia Vance, requesting them to a better inspection on loot boxes and the potential effects on players; mainly children.

Before, the ESRB refused to classify loot boxes as gambling as it would force an adult rating on video games based on a interview from Kotaku.

“ESRB does not consider loot boxes to be gambling,” said an ESRB spokesperson. “While there’s an element of chance in these mechanics, the player is always guaranteed to receive in-game content (even if the player unfortunately receives something they don’t want). We think of it as a similar principle to collectible card games: Sometimes you’ll open a pack and get a brand new holographic card you’ve had your eye on for a while. But other times you’ll end up with a pack of cards you already have.”

Hassan was not satisfied with the response from the ESRB and suggested a re-evaluation as opening loot boxes are “expensive habits and use similar psychological principles suggest loot boxes should be treated with extra scrutiny.” While her proposal isn’t as strict as Hawaii’s proposal, her position as a U.S. senator is more prevalent nation-wide. It could end up leading to her proposing federal legislation about this issue, rather than individual states doing it.

The government and most gamers are actually on the same side in regards to the opinion that loot boxes should be regulated more in games but the effect on the industry could be intense. Micro-transaction make a majority of games profits after initial sales. While the goal of all game sales are to make a profit from initial sales, the reason for the huge growth in the industry and making it a worth $30 billion are from practices such as this.

Forbes

Kotaku – Interview with the head of the ESRB

WCCfTech