A total of 16 international gambling regulators, including the Washington State Gambling Commission and the Jersey Gambling Commission from the U.S., the French Online Gaming Regulatory Authority, the Gambling Department from the Ministry of Finance in the Czech Republic, and the U.K. Gambling Commission, to name but a few, have all signed a coalition agreement to declare and state their concerns over video game loot boxes utilizing the frameworks of traditional gambling mechanisms.
In the press statement, chief executive of signatory for the Gambling Commission, Neil McArthur, stated…
“We have joined forces to call on video games companies to address the clear public concern around the risks gambling and some video games can pose to children. We encourage video games companies to work with their gambling regulators and take action now to address those concerns to make sure that consumers, and particularly children, are protected.”
“We want parents to be aware of the risks and to talk to their children about how to stay safe online. For example, unlicensed websites offering skins betting can pop up at any time and children could be gambling with money intended for computer game products.”
This comes shortly after Electronic Arts was put under criminal investigation by Belgium authorities for defying the regional gambling laws set in place, which dictated that loot boxes are considered gambling and therefore if EA wanted to continue to use them in games like FIFA, they would have to acquire a gambling license. EA declined to acknowledge the law, stating that loot boxes are not gambling and therefore they were not going to remove them from the FIFA games, nor would they go through the procedures to acquire a gambling license.
Other publishers such as Valve, Blizzard Entertainment and 2K Games reluctantly complied with the law by removing loot boxes in Belgium, following an investigation into games like Overwatch, Counter-Strike and NBA 2K.
Valve, however, is no stranger to coming under fire from gambling commissions. Back in 2016 the Washington State Gambling Commission (yes, the same one who signed the declaration agreement) came down on Valve for providing third-party websites with the facilitation to access Steam accounts for use in skin betting and loot box trading, which the Washington State Commission identified as illegal.
Valve was forced to issue cease and desist letters to the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive websites that had facilitated skin betting and loot box opening.
While the ESRB and PEGI have been reluctant to step in to regulate loot boxes, it appears that the regional gambling commissions will step in to do it for them.
(Thanks for the news tip Flying Bat)
(Main image courtesy of Entertain3r)