Since the loot box controversy peaked last year with Star Wars Battlefront II, various governments around the world began taking action against the business practice, with Belgium being one of the first to call loot boxes gambling. Other nations have expressed similar concerns, Ireland being one of them. However, the Irish government isn’t backing up its words with actions. On Sept. 27, David Stanton, minister of state in the Department of Justice, told the Senate that loot boxes do not fall under the jurisdiction of gambling legislation.
This statement comes unexpectedly after 16 gambling commissioners from around the world signed a letter raising concerns over loot box practices, attacking the “blurring of lines between gaming and gambling.” This letter was drafted and signed at the 2018 Gaming Regulators European Forum. One of these signatories was Brendan Mac Namara, the principal officer of the Gambling Policy Division under Ireland’s Department of Justice. Now Ireland’s government is distancing itself from calling loot boxes gambling.
“However, it should be understood, that if a game offers in-game purchases – be they loot boxes, skins, etc. – which are promoted to gamers as increasing their chances of success, such purchases are essentially a commercial or e-commerce activity,” Stanton said, according to Irish Legal News. “This activity would fall within normal consumer law.”
Stanton made clear that Ireland co-signing the GREF letter isn’t meant to be seen as official law. Instead, it’s a way for gambling officials to express concerns over the gaming industry. However, he was adamant that the Department of Justice “does not have a role to regulate game developers on how their games work nor, in the offering of in-game purchases.”
It should be noted that the Irish government is overhauling its gambling laws. Part of the process includes plans to create an independent regulating authority for the gambling industry. This proposed entity’s role regarding loot boxes is yet to be determined.
What do you think about how Ireland is handling the loot box issue? Let us know in the comments below!