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Lootboxes: Advice to the Gambling Commission from ABSG

ABSG has given advice to the Gambling Commission in regards to lootboxes. This advice outlines what lootboxes are, concerns around them, and how to protect consumers.

International approaches

There are indications of growing cross jurisdictional concern. To date four jurisdictions have chosen to legislate against lootboxes,32 33 34 35 and 19 regulators have signed a declaration expressing concern about their impact36.

International approaches to concerns about lootboxes

  • in 2020, a court in the Netherlands agreed with the regulator that EA’S Fifa Ultimate Team pack opening (lootbox) was classified as gambling. EA are currently appealing the ruling
  • Belgium regulator banned lootbox mechanics in 2018. Their law goes further than the UK law as a product is classified as gambling by having a gambling mechanic within it. It does not need to offer a prize
  • China required the publication of all lootbox odds as well as limiting the amount of boxes purchased in 2019
  • South Korea, like China, must disclose the probabilities of receiving any given reward from a lootbox
  • cross jurisdictional Strategic Implementation Group for Scotland (SIGS) signed by 19 regulators including the Gambling Commission declaring concern in this area
  • several class action lawsuits have been brought against games companies throughout the world alleging that they are offering gambling products. The latest is in Canada where EA Games is being accused of profiting from an illegal gambling business by selling lootboxes. All previous cases have so far have been dismissed
  • a number of elected representatives, such as senators in The United States, have tried to bring forward legislation banning, or curtailing lootboxes in some form. So far these have also been unsuccessful.
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