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Belgian Gaming Commission wants to prosecute loot box peddlers

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Spoof image of a video game versus screen pitting Belgium vs fictional Captain Loot Box
Belgium vs Captain Loot Box

Belgian Gaming Commission has suggested that criminal prosecution should be enforced against Electronic Arts, Activision Blizzard and Valve due to loot boxes in FIFA, Overwatch and Counter Strike: Global Offensive and their gambling nature.

I know what many of you may be thinking right now, "but why aren't they crashing down on Battlefront 2 as well?". Well, the game's saving grace is that the loot boxes have been temporarily disabled, but the removal put the gambling spotlight on the other three games. 

According to Gaming and Betting Act of 7 May 1999, gambling is "a game of chance is any game whereby a bet of any kind that is placed leads to the loss of this bet by at least one of the players, or a win of any kind for at least one of the players or organisers of the game, and whereby chance may even be a secondary element in the course of the game, indication of the winner or determination of the size of the winnings".

This act clearly defines all of the mentioned games as gambling, and therefore illegal in Belgium. Belgian Gaming Commission acted fast and immediately suggested criminal prosecution for EA, Activision Blizzard and Valve. The prosecution can not take place yet though, at least not before Belgian minister of justice Koen Geens meets with industry stakeholders in order to discuss the potential legal measures.

According to Peter Naessens, the director of Belgian Gaming Commission, it may take a while until the minister completes the talks but his time is not unlimited, so the matter will not drag on forever. BGC will "take all preparatory measures for the drafting of police reports" in the meantime.

Should the criminal prosecution not come to pass, there will be other measures taken against games with loot boxes. One such measure would be specifically marking these games in order to get a permit for distribution, while a clear indication of winning odds would be provided. Another requirement would be that the technical assessment team gets complete control over the random number generators used in those loot boxes.

BlizzardThe standard loot box in OverwatchOverwatch - Loot Box

Some people have been curious about Belgium's aggressive stance against gambling, and by extent loot boxes. According to Emvidasch on reddit, this is due to a previous incident that targeted children

Gameindustrybiz also interviewed Peter Naessens, who provided a lot more insight into the whole issue, while BGC's full report can be found here.