Will loot boxes be banned in the Netherlands?

Last year the Belgian Gaming Commission released a report about loot boxes in general and concluded that they are not allowed in their current form under the current Belgian gambling legislation and thus that loot boxes should be removed from the gaming market.[

Belgian Gaming Commission on Loot boxes   
EA Games conformed to the Belgian gambling legislation last week and announced that videogame publisher EA Games will remove the paying loot boxes in the game FIFA and that it will comply with the Belgian gambling legislation. At first EA Games did not conform FIFA to the Belgian Gaming legislation and it looked like EA would take the case to court. Concerning their last statement EA still does not agree with interpretation of the Belgian gaming legislation by the Belgian Gaming Commission.2

The Belgian Gaming Commission uses three parameters to asses a game of chance (or four if you count the gain and loss as two separate factors):

  1. The presence of a game element;

  2. A stake that can lead to a gain or a loss;

  3. In which chance is a factor.

In the case of FIFA, but also in other investigated games such as Overwatch and Counter strike, the Gaming commission ruled that the system of loot boxes forms a game of chance that is subject to Belgian gambling law.

Dutch Gaming Authority on Loot boxes    
It seems that the Dutch Gaming Authority (DGA) isn’t on the same page as the Belgian Gaming Commission as the DGA measures loot boxes by a different parameter. The parameter of overriding importance for the DGA is the trade ability or sale ability of the goods ‘won’ by the loot box.3 Ideas differ on this if this take on the international loot box discussion will uphold under Dutch Case Law. It is still the question if trade ability or sale ability of the goods is a legal convincing argument to label loot boxes as gambling under the Dutch gambling legislation. We will keep an eye out for forthcoming changes in the European gaming and gambling market, as the authorities of different countries have a different approach on the loot box discussion.

Advice    
Our office works in the Dutch and international gambling market for more than two decades now. Please do not hesitate if you seek more information or advice on this topic. We are more than willing to help you.

ICE London    
Our Gaming & Gambling team is available on ICE Vox and the ICE exhibition in London. Please let us know if you would like to meet us here.

 

Mr Lars Westhoff LL.M.                                             Mr Etienne van Namen LL.M.
Attorney at Law                                                             Legal Advisor


                                               

 


 

https://www.gamingcommission.be/opencms/export/sites/default/jhksweb_nl/documents/onderzoeksrapport-loot-boxen-final-publicatie.pdf 
2 https://www.ea.com/en-ca/news/fifa-points-belgium.
3 https://kansspelautoriteit.nl/onderwerpen/a-z/loot-boxes/