The Danish Gambling Authority has stated that loot boxes can be gambling in certain situations according to a statement on the agency’s website [Danish].
Using Google Translate, we’ve gone over the basics of the statement by the Danish Gambling Authority. It begins by defining what exactly loot boxes are: boxes full of virtual goodies that have random items in them. However, they continue to specify that they would only need to be covered by a gaming license if they meet the following criteria:
- You have to pay money for the loot box.
- There must be an element of chance in what you get out of the box.
- The contents of the box can be converted to financial gains (that is, you can sell the contents of the box).
In short, if you can’t pay to get the loot box and you can’t sell the contents of a loot box, it wouldn’t be considered gambling by the Danish Gambling Authority. They explicitly mention that Star Wars Battlefront II wouldn’t qualify under this ruleset because you can’t sell the contents of the boxes.
Conversely, betting on skins for games such as on a number of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive-based websites would be covered by the act since there’s the potential for monetary gain. The Danish Gambling Authority is careful to state that this is not an all-inclusive ruling – one game’s loot box system may play out differently than that of another. The core issue is whether or not money can be earned through a game of chance that requires you to spend money in the first place.
A number of questions remain regarding this issue, especially in light of the Danish Gambling Authority’s statement. Some games explicitly disallow the sale of items or accounts, but a grey market (and sometimes a black market) exists for these things. Going by a strict definition of the rules, an awful lot of titles might qualify as gambling under Denmark’s gambling laws. For now, the Danish Gambling Authority is settling on clarifying what exactly it takes for loot boxes to be considered gambling and that they’ll be judging each situation on an individual basis.
What do you think of the Danish Gambling Authority’s statement on loot boxes and gambling? Do you think their logic is sound? What games do you think the current rules would apply to? Let us know in the comments below!