A coalition of 16 separate gambling commissioners are raising concerns over loot box systems in video games. A news post on the UK’s Gambling Commission website released the statement.
The inclusion of loot boxes in video games has been investigated or outright banned in several nations in recent months. Finland, The Netherlands, and Hawaii, United States are currently looking into them. Belgium’s laws have caused Blizzard to remove the ability to purchase loot boxes from Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm and the Belgian Gaming Commission is considering bringing Electronic Arts to court over FIFA 18 and FIFA 19. Now, a number of gambling commissioners from 16 different governments (mostly in Europe) have come together and jointly signed a letter expressing their concerns over this monetization scheme.
“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.” -Neil McArthur, CEO of the UK Gambling Commission
The letter was the result of a discussion that took place the 2018 Gambling Regulators European Forum. Citing shared values for consumer protection (especially in regards to children), it states that the signatories are “increasingly concerned with the risks being posed by the blurring of lines between gambling and other forms of digital entertainment such as video gaming.” They hope that by making this joint statement, they’ll be able to bring more attention to the matter.
Here is a list of the signatories to the letter:
- Signe Birne, Director of Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection of Latvia
- Karel Blaha, Director of the State Oversight Over Gambling Department, Czech Republic
- Steve Brennan, Chief Executive, Gambling Supervision Commission, Isle of Man
- Charles Coppolani, Chair of the French Online Gaming Regulatory Authority
- Juan Espinosa García, CEO, Directorate General for Gambling Regulation, Spain
- Heathcliff Farrugia, Chief Executive Officer, Malta Gaming Authority
- Jason Lane, Chief Executive, Jersey Gambling Commission
- Andrew Lyman, Executive Director, Gambling Division, HM Government of Gibraltar
- Brendan Mac Namara, Principal Officer, Gambling Policy Division, Department of Justice and Equality of Ireland
- Teresa Monteiro, Vice-President of Turismo de Portugal, I.P
- Henrik Nordal, Director Deputy General, Norwegian Gaming Authority
- Jan Suyver, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Netherlands Gambling Authority
- Neil McArthur, Chief Executive Officer, UK Gambling Commission
- Paweł Gruza, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Finance, Poland
- Alfred Hacker, Director, Federal Ministry of Finance, Austria
- David Trujillo, Director, Washington State Gambling Commission
None of the listed signatories have committed to any specific joint action just yet. However, the letter states that individual nations may take action on their own depending on their laws. Indeed, several signatories have already begun investigations surrounding loot boxes and similar systems in video games. The signatories believe that it is in the best interest of game developers to work with them to ensure that they can operate in their respective countries in full compliance of the law.
This letter on the loot box topic is yet another declaration about the legal grey area that this monetization model falls under. However this all plays out, it seems like it might not be too long before this particular business model craps out.
What do you think of 16 gambling regulators jointly signing a letter stating their concerns with loot boxes? Do you believe they should be regulated by government bodies? Let us know in the comments below!