Belgium Considers Some Loot Boxes to be Gambling

The Belgium Gaming Commission posted a press release (machine translation) after conducting a thorough investigation into loot boxes in video games. The Commission has judged that at least three video games are in violation of the gambling legislation.

The press release states: “Players can buy a ‘loot box’ against payment – which can give them an advantage in the game – without knowing their content in advance.” This is a violation of Belgium’s gambling legislation. Belgium notes that children often come into contact with the loot box system, and they cannot allow that.

The Gaming Commission investigated four video games: Star Wars Battlefront II, Overwatch, FIFA 18, and Counter Strike: Global Offensive. “Those video games are connected to their own age system (PEGI). That system decides on the content of video games, but does not consider whether there is systematic use, winning or losing of real money.”

To speak of a game of chance, the Gaming Commission uses four parameters. If there is a game element, a bet can lead to profit or loss and chance has a role in the game. In the case of FIFA 18, Overwatch, and Counter Strike: Global Offensive, the Gaming Commission decides that the system of loot boxes forms a game of chance that is subject to Belgian gaming law. The developer of Star Wars Battlefront II made some adjustments shortly after the launch, so that the system of loot boxes in that game no longer technically forms a game of chance.

The press release also says: “The games with paid loot boxes, as currently offered in our country, are therefore in violation of the gaming legislation and can be dealt with under criminal law. The loot boxes must therefore also be removed. If that does not happen, operators risk a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to 800,000 euros. When minors are involved, those punishments can be doubled.”