It hasn’t even been a week since Belgium began a criminal investigation into FIFA’s loot boxes, and 15 gambling regulators from Europe and one from the US have come together to “address the risks created by the blurring of lines between gaming and gambling.”
The signatories come from the UK, France, Ireland, Spain, and the US (via the Washington State Gambling Commission).
All parties involved appear to be “tackling unlicensed third-party websites offering illegal gambling linked to popular video games.” If you are confused, think back to skin betting and CS: GO upgrade sites, which allowed players to bet real money at a chance to win skins. Many of these still exist, and the regulators want the video games industry and the technology platforms to do their part in cracking down on these sites.
The investigation doesn’t stop there. The regulators stated game providers must “ensure that features within games, such as loot boxes, do not constitute gambling under national laws.” This means more countries will examine whether loot boxes will are considered gambling.
Consumer protection and the safety of children online are what motivate the effort. Neil McArthur, chief executive of the UK Gambling Commission, said: “We want parents to be aware of the risks and to talk to their children about how to stay safe.”
“Unlicensed websites offering skins betting can pop up at any time and children could be gambling with money intended for computer game products,” McArthur said. “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.”
Signatories to the “declaration of gambling regulators on their concerns related to the blurring of lines between gambling and gaming.”
- 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
- UK: Neil McArthur, Chief Executive Officer, UK Gambling Commission
Although no solid actions have taken place, the international effort means there is a significant shift in the loot box regulation debate. Pressure is building on publishers who continue to include loot boxes in their games.
Do you think it’s time to put an end to loot boxes?
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25-year-old Father/Gaming Connoisseur. Born and Raised inside a Compaq Desktop.