France investigates loot boxes

While some of its peers in the continent already banned loot boxes, ARJEL said that not all can be described as gambling.

France.- Loot boxes have been severely questioned in some European territories in the last few months, as some people believe that they should be considered gambling, and therefore regulated as such. France’s gambling regulator, ARJEL, has revealed that it is investigating loot boxes, as not all loot boxes fall under the definition of gambling.

While the French regulator said that the concept of loot boxes is not new, the exposure has led them to raise some concern and vigilance. ARJEL understand that in loot boxes the player does not know what he buys and the result of his acquisition is governed by chance or more accurately by a random number generator.

However, “in the absence of any control, there is no guarantee that the distribution of the prizes will not be made according to the behaviour of the player and the exploitation of his personal data with the aim of inciting him to play more by manipulating the randomness of the distribution,” says the regulator.

The argument is based on the fact that all loot boxes contain lots and therefore are different from gambling is debatable, says the French entity. “ If (given the French definition of gambling) all “loot boxes” cannot be described as gambling, it is not the same when the lot is monetisable. The legality of this type of game is questionable when the lot is likely to be sold outside the gaming platform and the publisher allows the use of lots acquired elsewhere than in the environment of its platform. In this case, the ARJEL intervenes: a certain number of investigations are in progress.”

Furthermore, ARJEL proposed a common reflection of European regulators on developments and regulation of online gambling in the continent, such as loot boxes in video games. 

Earlier this year, the Belgian Gaming Commission (Kansspelcommissie) threatened operators with fines up to US$2 million if a number of popular video games are not adjusted. The commission came to the conclusion that loot boxes are games of chance, and if these are further exploited, they will insist on tough legal actions.

The Dutch Gambling Authority (Kansspelautoriteit) also revealed in a public report that four out of ten loot boxes violate the Betting and Gaming Act. The gambling regulator asked the gaming sector to adjust the loot box offerings within games in order for them to comply with the current regulations.

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