The video game loot box controversy has been under the spotlight now for almost a year. The discussion reached a tipping point in November 2017 when EA lost $3 billion in stock value because of the Battlefront 2 microtransaction debacle. As a result, we’ve seen many developers implement radical changes in their loot box policy. Furthermore, some governments even weighed in on the issue; siding with the “loot boxes are gambling” argument. On the other side, big names in gaming like the ESRB ruled for the opposite. The issue is far from resolved, and now sixteen global gambling regulators joined forces to address international concern “over blurred lines between gambling and video games.”
Gambling regulators from across Europe team up
Representatives from France, Washington, and the UK, and thirteen other countries signed the agreement. That sixteen people, who are all considered to be top specialists in the field of gambling regulation are now investigating loot boxes in gaming, is no small milestone.
To get to the place where so many countries agree that there is a problem is noteworthy. The commission’s first task is to investigate unlicensed third-party websites offering illegal gambling linked to video games. Secondly, they will look at loot boxes to determine if it constitutes gambling under national laws.
Gambling Regulators European Forum – The Declaration
The sixteen representatives signed the Declaration on September 17 during the annual meeting of the Gambling Regulators European Forum.
We commit ourselves today to working together to thoroughly analyse the characteristics of video games and social gaming. This common action will enable an informed dialogue with the video games and social gaming industries to ensure the appropriate and efficient implementation of our national laws and regulations. Each gambling regulator will of course reserve the right to use instruments of enforcement given by its national gambling regulatory framework. We will also work closely with our consumer protection enforcement authorities.
You can read the full Declaration here. Below is the list of all who signed the document.
- Signe Birne, Director of Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection of Latvia
- Karel Blaha, Director of the State Oversight Over Gambling Department, Czech Republic
- Steve Brennan, Chief Executive, Gambling Supervision Commission, Isle of Man
- Charles Coppolani, Chair of the French Online Gaming Regulatory Authority
- Juan Espinosa García, CEO, Directorate General for Gambling Regulation, Spain
- Heathcliff Farrugia, Chief Executive Officer, Malta Gaming Authority
- Jason Lane, Chief Executive, Jersey Gambling Commission
- Andrew Lyman, Executive Director, Gambling Division, HM Government of Gibraltar
- Brendan Mac Namara, Principal Officer, Gambling Policy Division, Department of Justice and Equality of Ireland
- Teresa Monteiro, Vice-President of Turismo de Portugal, I.P
- Henrik Nordal, Director Deputy General, Norwegian Gaming Authority
- Jan Suyver, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Netherlands Gambling Authority
- Neil McArthur, Chief Executive Officer, UK Gambling Commission
- Paweł Gruza, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Finance, Poland
- Alfred Hacker, Director, Federal Ministry of Finance,Austria
- David Trujillo, Director, Washington State Gambling Commission
Do you think this marks a turn in the debate, or will it be business as usual in gaming?