Games News

EU and US gambling regulators turn their gaze towards loot boxes

A flag of the European Union

Fifteen European gambling regulators along with the director of Washington State Gambling Commission have teamed up to adress the "concerns related to the blurring of lines between gambling and gaming", which of course includes loot boxes.

The regulators have signed an agreement on working together to make sure that implementation of gambling mechanisms in games does not end up harming the most sensitive population, i.e. children. "We encourage video games companies to work with their gambling regulators and take action now to address those concerns", said the chief executive of the UK Gambling Commission Neil McArthur.

All of the signing parties are well aware of the controversies around loot boxes and gambling-themed content available in video games, but their first order of business won't be loot boxes. In fact, it seems that the newly found group's main priority are "unlicensed third-party websites offering illegal gambling linked to popular video games".

In case you're hazy on what they mean exactly, they're talking about skin betting, as the practise is most commonly called. Basically, you use cosmetic items earned inside a game as tokens for actual gambling and these sites are more popular then you'd think.

In fact, Counter Strike: Global Offensive has had quite the infestation of skin gambling sites back in 2016, prompting Valve and GabeN to issue a ton cease and desist letters. The two most prominent Valve-related skin betting sites were CSGOLounge and Dota2Lounge, both of which are still around but seemingly without the said functionality.

Despite the fact that skin betting has been prioritised, the declaration lists loot boxes as an ongoing concern, not least for game developers making their accessibility to minors a breeze. Since it's unlikely that developers will be removing them on their own accord, it appears that regulators will have to do it for them. 

AltCharA flag of the European UnionBelgium, Loot Box

Valve, Blizzard and 2K have already complied with Belgian and/or Dutch legislatives, while EA seems to interested in taking the entire thing to court. You may recall that the company refused to comply with regulations, which means they're subject to criminal investigation in the country.

You can find the full declaration here.