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 y 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 algunos 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.
The day after ESRB’s response, Europe’s approximate counterpart (PEGI, Pan European Gaming Information ratings) took an even weaker stance, telling WCCF Tech that only national gambling commissions could decree whether something constituted gambling or not. Until this happened, the PEGI organization said it would only classify games that mirror “real life” gambling as gambling.
The question of whether loot boxes are gambling may see some new scrutiny in the US. Hawaiian Democratic State Representative Chris Lee has described loot boxes as predatory behavior, and he said that his office was looking at legislation to prevent selling loot box games to minors. Lee also noted that his office had already spoken with legislators from other states about the same issue.
Actualizar: there are conflicting reports and translations about what, precisely, the Gaming Commission has decided. Per 4gamers.be, Geens has made his view clear, but that contrary to the VTM Nieuws report, the Commission itself is still investigating.