Although a number of European countries are honing on microtransactions in games, one may be backing away from them. Although Ireland signed a declaration from the Gaming Regulators European Forum (GERF), a state official said this document “does not have legal effect.”
David Stanton, who is a Minister of State in the Department of Justice in Ireland, said the issue of whether microtransactions should be considered gambling depends on the circumstances.
Where a game offers the possibility of placing a bet or the taking of risk for financial reward within the game, then, in my view it must be licensed as a gambling product. To offer gambling products in Ireland, a license is required under the Betting Acts 1931-2015 or the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956.
Stanton did say, however, that not all in-game purchases should immediately be labeled gambling.
However, it should be understood, that if a game offers in-game purchases—be they loot boxes, skins, etc.—which are promoted to gamers as increasing their chances of success, such purchases are essentially a commercial or e-commerce activity. This activity would fall within normal consumer law.
Stanton noted that the Department of Justice “does not have a role to regulate game developers on how their games work nor, in the offering of in-game purchases.”
This is a stark contrast from how some other European nations have treated microtransactions. Belgium, in particular, has made headlines with its crackdown on loot boxes. All games containing in-game purchases were deemed gambling, leading publishers like Blizzard to remove them from Belgian releases. Others, like EA, have simply ignored the warning, which landed the publisher in some pretty hot water.
[Source: Irish Legal News]