The contentious issue of loot boxes in video games has prompted a variety of responses from authorities in various countries. The Dutch and Belgian authorities, for example, have taken swift action and have announced that publishers who don’t meet their guidelines might face legal action. The French gambling regulator, on the other hand, is refraining from defining loot boxes as gambling.
In a recently published report, the Autorité de regulation des jeux en ligne (ARJEL) has criticized loot boxes but says that a “combined and coordinated” action plan is required to deal with them, according to a translation and analysis of the report by media law associate Sebastian Schwiddessen. ARJEL believes that regulation of loot boxes would require input from several institutions including gambling authorities, consumer protection authorities, financial and banking regulators, and data protection authorities. ARJEL wants European financial regulators, for instance, to step in and provide a more “coherent” analysis of microtransactions.
But does ARJEL believe loot boxes can be considered gambling? The authority believes that for loot boxes to qualify as gambling, the items contained within them must have real-life monetary value, and adds that it’s currently investigating the possibility of selling loot box-generated items.
Schwiddessen’s anlysis of the report suggests that ARJEL is reluctant to take solo action and is seeking further clarification from several authorities for a combined effort to address loot boxes. However, don’t expect an outcome anytime soon. It also seems unlikely that ARJEL will follow the Belgian and Dutch authorities’ footsteps.