Spanish gaming regulator opens consultation on loot boxes

The regulator is of the opinion that loot boxes share many features with gambling products
The regulator is of the opinion that loot boxes share many features with gambling products

The DGOJ is asking how loot boxes should be regulated, or whether they should be banned altogether.

Spain.- The national gambling regulator the Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ) has launched a new consultation on the regulation of loot boxes in Spain.

The consultation asks whether loot boxes in video games require new regulation, whether they should be regulated as gambling products or whether they should be prohibited altogether.

The DGOJ noted that loot boxes had rapidly “become a very relevant business model” in both paid and free-to-play games, with half of mobile games and 35 per cent of computer games using the blind-boxed mechanic for in-game purchases.

The regulator is of the opinion that loot boxes share many features with gambling products, such as “near misses” and “losses disguised as wins”.

It said they could clearly be considered as gambling under the Spanish Gambling Act, which defines gambling as involving payment for participation, chance in determining the result and a prize transferred to the winner.

It said: “This legal definition, which is known and applied by all entities that offer activity related to gambling and betting, is also applicable to loot boxes.

“It is irrelevant if that reward is a cosmetic improvement in a video game or a competitive advantage for a player who obtains it.”

See also: EA to block FIFA Ultimate Team mode due to loot box lawsuits

The DGOJ is asking a range of questions to seek to determine how loot boxes should be regulated

That includes the question of whether loot boxes should come under the remit of Spain’s existing gambling legislation or whether a new regulatory framework is needed.

In the latter case, it asks what such regulations should involve, whether a specific framework for customer protection was needed and whether operators that offer loot boxes should have to apply for gambling licences.

See also: Spain sees increase in self-exclusion from online gambling

It also asks whether loot boxes should be considered legal or should be banned.

The consultation is open until March 31.

Elsewhere in Europe, Belgium has classified loot boxes as gambling products, while the UK is investigating the mechanism further. 

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DGOJ gambling regulation