Belgium’s Gambling Commission has been investigating four popular titles to see if loot boxes from them violate the Dutch gambling laws. Three out of the four, namely, Overwatch, FIFA 18 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive have not passed the test while Star Wars: Battlefront 2 that initially started the whole controversy came off clean thanks to the changes made by EA shortly after the fans voiced their displeasure.
Minister of Justice Koen Geens has published a report of the Commission’s investigation. He wishes to participate in a dialogue with the game developers, operators and the Gambling Commission. Below you can find excerpts translated by using Google Translate.
Mixing games and gambling, especially at a young age, is dangerous for mental health. We have already taken numerous measures to protect both minors and adults against the influence of, among other things, gambling advertising. That is why we must also ensure that children and adults are not confronted with games of chance when they are looking for fun in a video game.
Peter Naessens, director of the Gambling Commission, stated:
Paying [purchasable] loot boxes are not an innocent part of video games that present themselves as games of skill. Players are tempted and misled, and none of the protective measures for gambling are applied. Now that it is clear that children and vulnerable people, in particular, are exposed to them unprotected, game manufacturers but also parties such as FIFA, for example, are called upon to call a halt to this practice.
The Commision requires the removal of Loot Boxes from Overwatch, FIFA 18 and CS: GO. If that doesn’t happen, the operators risk a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to 800k euro. When minors are involved, those punishments can be doubled.