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26th Apr 2018

Belgium has banned loot boxes in video games, declaring them gambling

Wil Jones

Loot boxes are possibly the most annoying thing in gaming

Instead of getting all the cool stuff in a game because you play it loads, or are, y’know, good at it, you have to pay money for a virtual packet of stickers, and hope there is something good inside.

The debate about loot boxes goes further than that though. Maybe people have argued that they are actually gambling, and therefor would fall under certain legal restrictions – particularly meaning that they can’t be sold to children.

Earlier this month, the Netherlands declared that they were indeed gambling – and now Belgium has followed suit, and declared them illegal. The Belgium Gambling Commisson looked at Commission looked at Star Wars Battlefront 2, FIFA 18, Overwatch and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Battlefront 2 escaped unscather, after EA notoriously scrapped them from the game after gamers complained. They however judged that as FIFA 18, Overwatch and Counter-Strike’s loot boxes were games of chance, they were therefore gambling.

The Commisson then said that the boxes must be removed from those games, otherwise publishers could face “a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to 800,000 euros”. And that can be doubled if children are involved in the offence.

Belgian Minister of Justice Koen Geens said:

“Given the importance of the protection of minors and vulnerable players, this was very worrying.

“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.”