Fifteen gambling regulators from Europe, as well as Washington State Gambling Commission, signed an agreement to work together to address the “risks created by the blurring of lines between gaming and gambling,” according to Gambling Commission It also plans to tackle third-party websites that offer players the chance to gamble or sell in-game items.
Various countries have determined that loot boxes create a temptation in some players to keep purchasing in hopes of getting better loot due to the randomized nature and the rewarding visual effects that come with opening new boxes.
Certain countries, like Belgium and the Netherlands, have already taken measures including officially declaring loot boxes as gambling. Those countries even had players unable to open loot boxes in “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” (CS:GO) due to some players selling rare skins and other in-game items on third-party websites, sometimes for large sums of actual money. Another measure was taken by popular games selling platform Steam, as Valve removed the ability to trade items in “CS:GO” and “Dota 2” on its platform to comply with gambling regulations in June.
However, this will mark the first international combined effort against the concerns of gaming and gambling— which could mean a more intense effort than what individual states have taken.
The participating countries in this new international effort include Austria, Czech Republic, France, Gibraltar, Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey, Latvia, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the US’s Washington State Gambling Commission.
Neil McArthur, chief executive and signatory of the UK’s Gambling Commission explained the intent behind the effort.
“We have joined forces to call on video games companies to address the clear public concern around the risks gambling and some video games can pose to children,” McArthur said. “We encourage video games companies to work with their gambling regulators and take action now to address those concerns to make sure that consumers, and particularly children, are protected.”
McArthur further noted that children could be “gambling with money intended for computer game products” using sites that allow users to bet real currency on in-game items.
“We want parents to be aware of the risks and to talk to their children about how to stay safe online,” McArthur said.
Although third-party gambling enabling sites are a concern, much of the responsibility is on games publishers themselves, as the news report states that they “must also ensure that features within games, such as loot boxes, do not constitute gambling under national laws.”
Just last week, the Belgian Gaming Commission put EA under investigation for its use of loot boxes in “FIFA” games. The Entertainment Software Association did not immediately respond to Variety‘s request for comment.