Is a loot box actually a disguised no Cruks casino?
A lot has happened in the Netherlands in recent years in the field of online games. For example, the government recently decided to no longer ban online gambling. This has led to more and more people in the Netherlands gambling online at an online casino. But recently a whole new phenomenon has become popular in the Netherlands and comparisons are regularly made with no Cruks gambling. This concerns in-app loot boxes. These are purchases that you can make in mobile applications, for example to purchase an extra nice outfit for your game character. But not everyone is happy about this and there has even been a lawsuit against gaming giant EA Games. The Dutch Gaming Authority was convinced that players of the game FIFA were encouraged to make in-app purchases through so-called loot boxes. In this article we take a closer look at what exactly loot boxes are, whether there is a difference with an online casino without a license and we discuss the new gambling legislation.
What is a loot box?
As indicated, a loot box is an in-app purchase that players of certain games can make. Buying such a box often provides the player with a large number of advantages. For example, it could be a series of weapons that are not normally available in the game. But also skins or costumes so that a player can distinguish themselves from opponents. For players, this is an extra option to make the game a little more fun. But it is important to know that these extra options are often not available to players without paying. It is therefore necessary to actually make payments to unlock these loot boxes. And many people make the comparison between loot boxes and a no Cruks casino due to the fact that you do not know in advance what is in such a box. It is therefore seen as a game of chance and the dangerous thing is that these loot boxes are often present in games for players under the age of 18.
The judge makes a ruling
In the world-famous game FIFA, the loot boxes recently led to a lawsuit. The Dutch Gaming Authority found that the loot boxes had a lot in common with an online no Cruks casino and the comparison with a game of chance was therefore made. The Gaming Authority indicated that the loot boxes are addictive and that they did not have a permit for such a way of offering games. This ultimately leads to a lawsuit between the two parties. But in the end the judge ruled and FIFA agreed. No permit would be required for the way in which the gaming giant offers the loot boxes.
No difference between loot boxes and no Cruks casino
From the Gaming Authority’s point of view, there is no difference between loot boxes and a reliable no Cruks casino due to the fact that the prizes that can be won have a value and these are randomly awarded to players. Players therefore have no influence on this themselves and that makes it look suspiciously like a game of chance. The Gaming Authority sees it as a major setback that they lost to gaming giant EA Games with regard to the game FIFA. But they have not resigned themselves to it and will continue to do everything they can to prevent this type of practice in the coming years.
What risks do loot boxes entail?
Loot boxes are therefore very similar to gambling at an unlicensed casino and this entails the necessary risks. At an online casino it is still a requirement that a player is at least 18 years or older. This is not the case with a game like FIFA, which in principle anyone can play. In practice, it also appears that younger people are a lot more sensitive to such options as loot boxes. But it is not only age verification that is a problem, there are a number of aspects that make loot boxes dangerous. Below we discuss the most important ones:
With the introduction of the new gambling legislation, owners of online casinos are obliged to cooperate with the Cruks register. It is possible that a gambling stop is issued when someone is dealing with a gambling addiction. This is not the case with loot boxes and players can continue playing even if they become addicted.
Because loot boxes cost money, it is possible that players lose a lot of money if they keep buying. This is a major risk and due to a lack of supervision it can get out of hand.
In the Netherlands, the Gaming Authority ensures that providers of games of chance adhere to the set rules. If loot boxes are not seen as a game of chance, this means that they are not supervised. Providers can therefore determine the rules themselves and this can be quite dangerous for consumers.
New gambling legislation
In October 2021, the Dutch government decided to legalize online gambling. After years of much uncertainty about the rules of online gambling, the government decided that enough was enough and change had to be made. This leads to the Remote Gambling Act. This new law states that gambling providers can apply for a license from the Gaming Authority and may offer games of chance provided they adhere to a number of strict conditions. It also states that visiting a casino without an iDeal license, for example, is not permitted.
A lot has happened in the field of online games in recent years. For example, the government decided to allow online gambling in the Netherlands and to prohibit visiting a no Cruks casino. Then the so-called loot boxes recently came into play and caused a lot of commotion in the Netherlands. These in-app purchases would be very similar to gambling without a license and so they were characterized as a game of chance. The Gaming Authority chose to file a lawsuit against EA Games but lost. It is currently possible to purchase loot boxes in various online games without any problem. The Gaming Authority is doing everything it can to prevent this, but to date this remains possible.