The Netherlands could be the next country to ban loot boxes in video games as multiple political parties unite behind the bill that would ban the country from arbitrary in-game purchases.
That movementfirst posted to reset era by user Poklane, would still have to make its way through the country’s Senate, but with such bipartisan support for the bill, it seems incredibly unlikely that it will fail, meaning the Netherlands would join Belgium in its loot crate ban.
The motion alleges that “in video games, children are manipulated into performing microtransactions and that loot boxes are also a form of gambling.”
It further alleges that as a result of these payments, they “can become addicted and burden families with unexpected bills for these transactions.”
Calls from across Europe to ban loot boxes are growing, and pressure is mounting on game companies to remove them from their most popular titles like FIFA and NBA 2K.
Last month, 20 consumer groups from 18 European countries launched a coordinated action urging authorities to enact regulations on loot crates.
The consumer groups are calling for a range of measures, including “a ban on misleading design, additional protections for minors and transaction transparency”.
In July 2020, after repeated calls for action by the Government, the House of Lords recommended that the UK Government “act immediately Bringing loot boxes within the purview of gambling legislation and regulation“.
In April 2018, the Belgian Gambling Commission determined that loot boxes, such as those sold for real money in FIFA’s Ultimate Team mode, constitute gambling.
The commission then went so far as to recommend criminal prosecution against companies that continued to sell them in their games.
As a result, games in Belgium will either have their loot boxes removed or not be sold there at all. EA, for example, announced in 2019 that it would no longer sell FIFA Points in Belgium.
That was recently confirmed Diablo Immortal will not be released in the Netherlands or Belgium due to the use of loot boxes.
The case in the Netherlands is a little less clear-cut, as a major court case in March this year found that loot boxes don’t always violate the country’s gambling laws.
The court of The Hague ruled in October 2020 that the Dutch Gaming Authority Can fine EA €500,000 every week if it keeps selling loot boxes in FIFA Ultimate Team after the feature was found to be against gambling rules.
However, in March 2022, the Dutch Administrative Judiciary Department of the Council of State decided so the previous finding was an “unjustified punishment”and that EA no longer had to pay the fine.
The new finding isn’t a definitive conclusion about whether loot boxes are games of chance. Rather, it is simply a decision that under Dutch gambling law a ‘gambling licence’ (ie gambling licence) is only required where the ‘gambling’ aspect is a stand alone product such as a slot machine and not a single element of a larger game of skill.
This new motion would reverse that decision and finally quantify loot boxes as gambling and permanently ban them from games like FIFA.