The loot box controversy
Loot boxes have been at the centre of controversy, with many people and organisations suggesting that a loot box is a form of gambling, while others, including game developers, argue that loot boxes are not gambling.
It’s not such a farfetched idea that video games could include elements of gambling, and that one of the many online casino sites, like this one, could decide to partner with a console or game to provide in-play gambling, providing that the player can verify his or her age before doing so. However, some further hurdles would need to be overcome, such as being able to provide similar services to that of an online casino, such as implementing betting limits for player safety.
Court rules loot boxes aren’t gambling
A court case against EA sports over loot boxes in FIFA has just come to an end. The case began in the last quarter of 2022 when a court stated that a Dutch gambling authority could fine EA Sports 500,000 euros per week for every week that they continued to offer loot boxes (FIFA packs) in their game. The potential fine was capped at a total of 10 million euros. However, FIFA challenged this fine and refused to pay or remove FIFA packs from their game, stating that their loot boxes are not a form of gambling.
Fast-forward to March 2022, and the previous court ruling has been overturned. The courts now state that the fine was an “unjustified penalty”, and loot boxes can remain in the FIFA games. The argument came down to whether loot boxes were a standalone game of chance or provided as part of a broader game, including elements of skill. If they were judged to be a standalone game of chance, then EA Sports would require a gaming license to offer their FIFA packs to gamers.
The latest court ruling states that even though FIFA packs cannot be opened during a game of FIFA where skill is required to win, this does not make them a standalone game of chance. Thus, EA Sports should never have been imposed penalties and will be allowed to continue offering FIFA packs in The Netherlands.
Loot boxes remain a grey area
But this court ruling is not likely to solve the loot box problem, with many people still suggesting they are a significant grey area. Many younger children have been caught up in paying for loot boxes, sometimes unknowingly with parents’ credit cards and racking up huge bills. There is even new research to suggest a link between loot boxes and future gambling problems.