Belgium's Gaming Commission Deems Loot Boxes Illegal

Published April 27, 2018 by Florin P

Belgium's Gaming Commission Deems Loot Boxes Illegal

The Belgium Gaming Commission rules than loot boxes in video games fit the description of gambling.

The Belgium Gaming Commission spent a few months trying to determine whether loot boxes in video games constitute gambling or not. Games such as FIFA 18, Overwatch and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive provide players the possibility of purchasing them with real money. This is a multimillion dollar industry and micro-transactions represent an important source of revenue for games publishers.

Loot Boxes Violate Belgium’s Gaming Legislation

The decision to brand loot boxes as gambling means that publishers need to remove them from the games. Belgium minister of justice Koen Greens warned videogame companies that unless they make these amends, they could be subject to criminal punishment. Publishers could pay as much as $1.3 million in fines and their representatives could even serve prison sentences.

In the wake of the Star Wars Battlefront 2 micro-transactions scandal, Belgium's Gaming Commission began looking into the matter of loot boxes. The commission’s representatives used different criteria to determine if loot boxes constituted gambling or if they were regular video game elements. FIFA 18, Overwatch and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are the games directly affected by this decision. Interesting enough, Star Wars Battlefront 2 wasn’t part of the decision as loot boxes were removed.

Blizzard is expected to remove the loot boxes that randomly award rare characters to Overwatch players. Across the border, the Netherlands Gaming Authority decided to act against 4 out of the 10 Overwatch loot boxes that they regarded as in violation with national laws. The Belgium Minister of Justice is yet to announce an official deadline until the game publishers need to comply with this decision. The Belgian Minister of Justice invited all the parties involved to engage in further dialogue on this sensitive matter.

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