Belgium denounces loot boxes as gambling; Hawaiian legislator calls them “predatory”

Photo of Belgium denounces loot boxes as gambling; Hawaiian legislator calls them “predatory”

Enlarge / In Belgium, this is similar to a loot box. (credit: Yuki Shimazu)

Belgium's Gaming Commission has ruled that loot boxes—in-game purchases where what you receive is randomized and only known once you open the box—are gambling. The country's minister of justice, Koen Geens, has said that he wants to see them banned Europe-wide, reports PC Gamer (and, in Dutch, VTM Nieuws).

Amid outcry over the use of loot boxes in Overwatch and Star Wars Battlefront 2, the Belgian Gaming Commission decided last week to look into the issue, with Commission Director Peter Naessens specifically saying that the combination of paying money and receiving something "dependent on chance" prompted the investigation. Rather swiftly, it seems, the Commission has made its decision.

In October, the US' Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rejected calls to classify loot boxes as gambling. It told Kotaku that since players receive some reward from opening the loot box—even if it's useless or unwanted—that it's not gambling. As such, loot box games will receive neither ESRB's "Real Gambling" nor "Simulated Gambling" labels, the former of which automatically gives a game an "Adults Only" rating. Many retailers refuse to sell A-O games, so giving every title that uses loot boxes such a rating would likely be harmful to their sales.

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