The Netherlands could be the next country to ban loot boxes in video games as multiple political parties unite behind the bill that would ban the country from arbitrary in-game purchases.
The motion, first posted to ResetEra by user Poklane, has yet to go through the country’s Senate, but with such bipartisan support for the bill, it seems incredibly unlikely that it will fail, meaning the Netherlands will join Belgium in its Ban would connect from loot boxes.
The motion alleges that “in video games, children are manipulated into performing microtransactions and that loot boxes are also a form of gambling.”
It further alleges that as a result of these payments, they “can become addicted and burden families with unexpected bills for these transactions.”
Calls from across Europe to ban loot boxes are growing, and pressure is mounting on game companies to remove them from their most popular titles like FIFA and NBA 2K.
Last month, 20 consumer groups from 18 European countries launched a coordinated action calling on authorities to enact regulations on loot boxes.
The consumer groups are calling for a range of measures, including “a ban on misleading design, additional protections for minors and transaction transparency”.
In July 2020, following repeated government calls for action, the House of Lords recommended that the UK Government “act immediately to bring loot boxes within the purview of gambling legislation and regulation”.
In April 2018, the Belgian Gambling Commission determined that loot boxes, such as those sold for real money in FIFA’s Ultimate Team mode, constitute gambling.
The commission then went so far as to recommend criminal prosecution against companies that continued to sell them in their games.
As a result, games in Belgium will either have their loot boxes removed or not be sold there at all. For example, EA announced in 2019 that it would no longer sell FIFA Points in Belgium.
It was recently confirmed that Diablo Immortal will not be released in the Netherlands or Belgium due to the use of loot boxes.
The case in the Netherlands is a little less clear-cut, as a major court case in March this year found that loot boxes don’t always violate the country’s gambling laws.
The Hague court ruled in October 2020 that the Dutch gaming authority can fine EA €500,000 each week if it continues to sell loot boxes in FIFA Ultimate Team after the feature was deemed a violation of gambling rules.
However, in March 2022, the Dutch Administrative Judiciary Department of the Council of State ruled that the previous finding was an “unjustified penalty” and that EA no longer had to pay the fine.
The new finding isn’t a definitive conclusion about whether loot boxes are games of chance. Rather, it is simply a decision that under Dutch gambling law a ‘gambling licence’ (ie gambling licence) is only required where the ‘gambling’ aspect is a stand alone product such as a slot machine and not a single element of a larger game of skill.
This new motion would reverse that decision and finally quantify loot boxes as gambling and permanently ban them from games like FIFA.