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Europe divided over virtual treasure chests

30930cff163c4f72b42a7479afe35e32 - Europe divided over virtual treasure chests

At least three popular games violated the law on games of Chance, concluded the gambling commission. But something change, it will not be easy.

The games Overwatch, Fifa 18, and Counterstrike: Global Offensive contain ‘loot boxes’ (a kind of virtual treasure chests with verrassingspakketten) real money can be bought. According to the gambling commission, is punishable: there may be a penalty to stand up to 800,000 euros and five years in prison, or even twice if minors are involved. However, calls on minister of Justice Koen Geens (CD&V) only for “a conversation with the sector”.

Belgium then so weak as to requirements of these international giants? No, says Peter Naessens, the director of the gambling commission. ‘Worldwide there is a large concern around loot boxes, and many countries, such as Portugal and Germany, follow Belgium.’ But Europe occurs in staggered ranks. The legislation on games of chance is a national matter. Great Britain can find loot boxes not gambling. The Dutch gaming authority published last week its own report. Four of the ten surveyed games are in violation with the Dutch law. But the Netherlands will find a loot box only illegal if the contents can be doorverhandeld. Even Belgium and the Netherlands are therefore not the same.

Little willingness

The Dutch report into perspective the problem. “There are no signs that loot boxes are widely accessed by problem gamblers and/or addict players’, it says. Gamers come yet, especially for gaming. All continues the report: “Socially vulnerable groups, such as young people, would, by opening loot boxes on the long term, however, can be turned on to participation in other games of chance. The risk of gambling addiction is to join this group to be many times higher than in adults.’

None of the involved game developers – EA, Valve, and Blizzard responded yesterday to our request for a comment. Also, Naessens saw little willingness to change: ‘In the context of the inquiry we ask for information, but they answered not.’

Pressure

What can Belgium do if these companies do not show up for calls, or low-mid tones? ‘Then we will take further steps, ” says Naessens. The gambling commission can a pv to transfer to the public prosecutor, that the prosecution or the ball play back to the commission. Belgium also hopes to exert pressure on the game developers by organisations such as the Fifa (that is, the rights for Fifa 18 grants) in the discussions to involve.

Naessens has a precedent: after a Belgian complaint was a casino feature in 2015 is removed from the game Game of War.

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