It appears that loot boxes as we know them won't last much longer, at least not if EU regulators have their say in the matter, as news broke of Finland launching its own investigation into whether loot boxes constitute gambling or not.
Finnish publication Helsingin Sanomat reports that an inquiry filed with the police of southwest Finland has led to what's currently a preliminary analysis. At the moment, it's unclear which, if any, game is being looked at but it's safe to assume it's either one of the games that Dutch and Belgian judiciaries focused on earlier.
The country's Lottery Authority has had a say in the matter too, because loot boxes tend to blur legal lines somewhat. According to Finnish laws though, a lottery is a paid activity based on chance that allows for monetary gain, which would mean loot boxes legally constitute gambling.
The Lottery Authority issued four conditions that would make loot boxes an illegal lottery. Unfortunately for the "participants", current loot boxes seem to tick all four. We've slightly edited Google Translate's results for comprehension and the conditions are:
- Buying a loot box can be done in whole or in part by real money;
- The player does not know the loot box contents beforehand;
- Loot Boxes may be exchanged for cash either by the publisher of a video game on their own or in third-party trading platforms; AND
- A video game publisher or other operator has no conditions under the lottery law to qualify for a lottery lottery license (virtually a video game publisher or other commercial entity can not get a badge).
Senior police inspector Mikko Cantell said that it came to their attention that "video games have gambling features that permeate the definition of lotteries", prompting the formation of a working group that is looking into the issue.
Much like the rest of the countries that are currently facing this problem though, Finland has no legal precedents in the matter so they're hoping that it can be resolved by working with game developers. Belgian and Dutch experiences have shown that Valve, 2K and Blizzard can be reasoned with, with varying degrees of whining, whereas EA seems to be dead set on taking the matter to court.
You can find the original article here (in Finnish).