Netherlands declares (some) loot boxes as gambling

Four out of Ten Loot Boxes Violate Dutch Gambling Law, Local Regulator Finds

Recently, the Netherlands Gaming Authority (NGA) launched an investigation into 10 unnamed games and how they utilize loot boxes.

The press statement makes it very clear and to the point what was concluded from the regulatory body's study, where they explain why predatory loot boxes are gambling, saying... In these games, the items could be traded to provide economic value, and thus violated the rules of chance. The investigation by the Gaming Authority also showed that there may be a connection between loot boxes and the development of addiction.

The study was conducted by the Netherlands Gaming Authority and its conclusion was that the games in question needed to be changed, or risk being banned in the country altogether.

The core issue seems to be that once you assign a monetary value to something found inside of a loot box and make it tradable, then in the Netherlands, that would be enough to deem it gambling. Companies like Apple now require apps to publish drop rates for any loot box mechanics-visible in this week's controversial "fortune cookie" update for Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, for example.

The study was undertaken exclusively to clarify the "ambiguities" surrounding the question of loot box prohibitions in the country. As such, it's demanding that games that use loot boxes remove "addiction-sensitive" elements, such as flashy effects to increase excitement upon opening a loot box, or the ability to open several loot boxes in quick succession. This ease of access increases loot boxes' addictive potential for "socially vulnerable groups", such as minors, the report says. There is now no evidence of large-scale loot box use among high-risk groups, but "the risk of gambling addiction in this group is many times higher than in adults".

Of the ten examined lottery boxes, four are in violation of the law. "Loot boxes do not contravene the law if the in-game goods from the loot boxes are not transferable".

"This argument is not valid", it states. Many consider them as being similar to "games of chance". "It is beyond doubt that the real victor is the person who wins the major, valuable prize with a high market value".

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