A group of regulators from 15 European regulation authorities and one US state – Washington – signed a declaration regarding the question of video game loot box regulation. The joint declaration expressed their concern “with the risks posed by the blurring of lines between gambling and other forms of digital entertainment such as video gaming.”
Published on the page of the UK Gambling Commission, the declaration states that the authorities commit to working together to analyze the characteristics of video games and social gaming.
Signed on the declaration were regulators from Latvia, Czech Republic, Isle of Man, France, Spain, Malta, Jersey, Gibraltar, Ireland, Portugal, Norway, the Netherlands, the UK, Poland and Austria. In addition, David Trujillo, the director of the Washington State Gambling Commission signed on the statement.
The authorities find that there are four main areas of concern that should be addressed.
- Loot boxes(that offer randomized in-game rewards) which some countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands have deemed illegal. Some US lawmakers, such as New Hampshire Senator, Maggie Hassan, have urged regulatory bodies to review their policies that relate to loot boxes.
- Skin betting(third party sites where members are allowed to bet money or in-game items). Washington State has already rapped the video game developer, Valve for allegedly facilitating third party gambling sites.
- Children’s exposure to gambling themes in video games.
- Social casino gambling – Found in apps such as Big Fish Casino, which a US federal appeals court has already deemed to be illegal online gambling under Washington state law.
The statement itself does not spell out what steps the regulators will take to address these issues, other than working together to analyze them. It rightly points out that there exist different frameworks for gambling regulation in each country.
A veiled threat could be seen where the regulators state that they intend entering into an informed dialogue with the video games and social gaming industries, saying further that they “anticipate that it will be in the interest of these companies whose platforms or games are prompting concern, to engage with gambling regulatory authorities to develop possible solutions.”