Loot boxes and skin trading are under investigation in 15 countries and despite being part of these 15 countries, Ireland has no plans to drop the hammer down on loot-boxes as the Irish government has ruled that loot boxes don’t come under gambling laws.
According to David Stanton, minister of state at Department of Justice, the department “does not have a role to regulate game developers on how their games work nor, in the offering of in-game purchases”.
Furthermore, Stanton noted that loot-boxes do not fall under gambling laws but, instead, they fall under “normal consumer law”.
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.
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 15 countries joint venture against loot-boxes and skin gambling comes after EA refusing to comply with Belguim ruling that loot boxes are gambling and as a result in now under criminal investigation.
Loot-boxes have been part of the video games for a while now in games like Overwatch, Star Wars Battlefront 2 and more.
The reason why these loot boxes are being investigated is that some developers just pushed the loot box system too hard like locking the progression system behind loot-boxes and enticing players to pay real-world money to get more loot-boxes.
This was the case with Star Wars Battlefront 2 and after severe backlash, loot boxes were removed from the game and were introduced back after a complete overhaul.
Not only that, an Australian research has concluded that loot boxes have a strong connection to gambling. According to the research, people with gambling problems are more prone to spend real money on in-game loot boxes.