A total of 15 gambling regulators from across Europe and the US have signed an agreement to join forces, in order to crack down of the “blurring of lines between gaming and gambling”.
Massively popular games like Fortnite, Overwatch, CS:GO and FIFA could be waving goodbye to one of their most popular moneymakers under this agreement – loot boxes.
Skin Betting and Third Party Gambling
You’ll probably be glad to hear that one of the main concerns of this agreement is to tackle “unlicensed third-party websites offering illegal gambling” – sites like the infamous CS:GO Lounge, which was shut down in 2016. Many sites like this still exist, and the agreement plans to call on video game companies, game developers and social gaming industries to help “crack down” on these sorts of websites.
But it doesn’t stop there.
An International Agreement
In the UK, a prize “has to be either money or have monetary value in order for it to fall under gambling legislation” according to the BBC. FIFA have argued that there is no official way to monetise what is in loot boxes, so they cannot be classified as gambling.
That means the current loot box systems in the UK should be safe, right? Perhaps not.
The international nature of the agreement indicated that more countries will be investigating whether loot boxes themselves can be classified as gambling under national laws. This could possibly mean that features could be available in some countries while unavailable in others… or scrapped altogether.
When the Belgian government launched its investigations into EA in 2018 over the randomized lootboxes in FIFA, it deemed them an “illegal game of chance”, before banning loot boxes and loot chests entirely.
This current agreement seems to have stemmed from a similar thought.
It seems that the motivation for the agreement comes from protecting consumers, particularly children, online. Neil McArthur, Chief Executive and signatory for the UK Gambling Commission on the declaration has said “We want parents to be aware of the risks and to talk to their children about how to stay safe online”.
Most of us have heard of horror stories from parents whose kids have racked up an obscene amount on lootboxes in-game, like trying to get a certain player for their team on FIFA (if not, check out the horror story from the BBC here). But many would argue that that doesn’t call for a ban like the Belgian government has implemented.
What are your thoughts on putting restrictions on lootboxes, or banning them altogether? Let us know.