Belgium takes a stand against Video Game loot boxes

Published by CasinoTopsOnline on May 4, 2018 IN Industry News

Belgium Loot Box Ban
Over the past few years governing bodies of several countries have started focusing more closely on any and all things gambling related. 

News about new gambling regulations or reviews of old gambling regulations are all over news sites worldwide. 

The idea for many countries is to strictly regulate anything gambling regulated as a means of protecting citizens against gambling problems. 

Belgium recently declared Video Game Loots Boxes illegal in the country as it bears too many similarities to games of chance

What are Loot Boxes?

Loot Boxes are part of popular video games and award players’ random rewards including equipment, vehicles, special characters and other helpful items to increase the gaming entertainment. 

These loot boxes can only be obtained through either gameplay or spending real cash to buy it. In essence this isn’t a strange occurrence as many video games or computer games allow players the opportunity to buy a box if they don’t wish to play for it. 

These boxes are found in popular games such as Call of Duty, Fifa 18, Overwatch and Counterstrike: Global Offensive (CS:GO). 

Loot boxes ruled illegal by Belgium Gambling Commission

Recently the Belgium Gaming Commission investigated four of the most popular video games including Fifa 18, Overwatch, CS:GO and Star Wars Battlefront II. 

According to their investigation only Battlefront II was found not in violation of the law. This being due to EA Sports halting micro-transactions on the game completely after massive negative backlash. 

Belgium announced that any loot boxes that can be acquired with real money has to be removed from video games in Belgium or the gaming companies might be subjected to criminal law. 

Any gaming companies failing to adhere to this ruling could face up to five years in prison or be fined a hefty sum of €800,000 (£697,000). 

According to Koen Geens, Belgium’s Minister of Justice, these loot boxes were a mix of gaming and gambling which could be dangerous to the mental health of children. According to Geens fines and prison sentences could be doubled especially where minors are involved. 

Both the UK and US commissions have ruled that these boxes are not in contradiction of their gambling regulations. Yet Belgium chose to go the other route and ruled in contrast of these commissions. 

When contacted an EA Sports spokesperson stated that it is their belief that all games are developed and implemented ethically and lawfully across the globe. He continued to say that EA Sports would welcome a dialogue with Minister Geens. 

The future of loot boxes in Belgium

According to recent statements Minister Geens said he would be open to meet video game industry members to discuss the next step. 

Although a discussion is bound to take place it has been made clear that loot boxes will have to be removed from video games in order to meet the requirements of gambling legislation. 

Some members of the public are praising the Belgium Gambling Commissions findings while other believe it is a bit extreme. 

Its unclear what the next steps will be but many believe gaming companies in violation of the Belgium laws will simply opt to remove their video games from the country completely.