European And US Gambling Regulators Sign A Declaration To keep In-Game Loot Boxes In Check
Despite an ongoing discussion spanning the past year, only a handful of countries have concluded that in-game loot boxes pertain to gambling. In an effort to further protect those vulnerable, such as minors, a US gambling regulator has come together with 15 European watchdogs to sign a declaration dedicated to “address the risks created by the blurring of lines between gaming and gambling.” The collaborative effort, organised at the 2018 Gambling Regulators European Forum, includes signatories from the UK, France, Ireland, Spain, and even the US (via the Washington State Gambling Commission).
Loot boxes will also be placed under a microscope, with game providers required to “ensure that features within games, such as loot boxes, do not constitute gambling under national laws.” This is presumably a response to EA Refusing To Remove Loot Boxes In Belgium And May Go To Court by refusing to remove loot boxes from its FIFA series, ensuring that publishers comply with set laws from here on out.
Belgium and The Netherlands have been the two most vocal countries against the intrusive practice, taking a stance against loot boxes in April 2018 in order to protect consumers and, more importantly, children. Chief executive of the UK Gambling Commission, Neil McArthur echoes this statement, ensuring that the declaration aims to help “parents to be aware of the risks and to talk to their children about how to stay safe.”
- 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
- United Kingdom: Neil McArthur, Chief Executive Officer, UK Gambling Commission
Many regulators involved in the signing of this declaration come from countries that have yet to speak out about loot boxes, or don’t see the practice as a risk, such as the United Kingdom. The governing superbody has yet to outline any plan of action, however the international unification could potentially prompt a more coordinated approach to the regulation of loot boxes, provided that re-evaluation is an option for companies that have dismissed concerns. The international nature of the agreement is also significant. Previous attempts at regulation have been taken by individual countries, while this approach may bring about coordinated and wide-spread regulatory changes: ones which could potentially be harsher than those taken by individual nations. It hints some countries which previously stated they did not consider loot boxes to be gambling, such as the UK, may now re-evaluate the issue. Will we soon see more countries change their position most likely!!!