The Netherlands intends to fully prohibit video game loot boxes.

Posted on: July 6, 2023, 08:33h. 

Last updated on: July 6, 2023, 08:33h.

The status of video game loot boxes and whether they’re a form of gambling is still uncertain across the globe. The Netherlands is considering a ban on loot boxes and microtransactions, similar to Belgium and other countries.

An example of a loot box that might appear in a video game
An example of a loot box that might appear in a video game. The Netherlands could join Belgium and other countries in banning the in-game microtransactions. (Image: Dreamstime)

Last year, a court judge in the Netherlands ruled that microtransactions were not considered gambling since they have no real-world value outside of the games. However, the Dutch government is now pushing for a ban on loot boxes and is hoping for support from the European Union (EU).

The Loot Box Quandary Continue

The UK and Belgium have taken strong stances against loot boxes and other in-game microtransaction activities. The UK has warned game developers to be cautious of new regulations, while Belgium has implemented an outright ban.

In Austria, a recent court ruling found Sony liable in a legal battle related to FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) packs. The judge determined that these packs, which allow players to purchase in-game players without knowing their contents in advance, are a form of gambling.

On the other hand, Canada and other countries have taken a different approach. In March of this year, a Canadian judge declared that microtransactions without real-world value do not qualify as gambling.

The Netherlands is currently undecided on the matter, but that may change soon. Leon Y. Xiao, a Ph.D. Fellow at the IT University of Copenhagen, confirmed that the government is working on new legislation to ban loot boxes.

After discovering a publication by the Dutch central government, known as the Rijksoverheid, Xiao sought clarification on the ban and shared the response on Twitter.

The government’s Public Information Service confirmed that a ban is in progress, although the extent of its development and its potential success are still unclear.

Growing Push for Dutch Loot Box Ban

Shortly after the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, Micky Adriaansens, launched an anti-loot box campaign, six political parties in the legislature proposed a ban on the sale and distribution of loot boxes and other microtransactions. Despite differing opinions on microtransactions, the mention of “gambling” has gained support as it becomes increasingly taboo.

Rene Otto, a gaming law attorney, conducted an assessment on the ban’s impact on the international gaming sector. He believes the Dutch government’s decision could pave the way for other countries facing similar issues and potentially lead to significant changes in the financial operations of gambling companies worldwide.

Adriaansens has emphasized the urgency of implementing stricter regulations for consumer protection and hopes to secure a region-wide ban through the support of the EU, which she appears to already have.

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