Update: The Polish Ministry has released a public statement in which it declared that loot boxes cannot be considered gambling under the current wording of the Polish Gambling Law.
Original Story: Ever since EA released Battlefront 2 loot boxes have been under investigation across the globe. Belgium went as far as banning them and asking various publishers to remove them from games. Certain U.S states are taking action as well and it is only a matter of time before this issue reaches Washington.
Poland has now joined one of the countries where loot boxes are under investigation or at least they will soon be, officially. Earlier this month, Komputer Swiat, a Polish Electronics Magazine reported that someone has notified the Ministry of Finance about the loot box system featured in FIFA 19 FUT mode. In Poland, the Ministry of Finance acts as a regulator for gambling activities and is likely to take action against EA.
The individual claimed that the loot boxes featured in EA’s game should be considered a form of unlicensed gambling. The slot machine nature of FIFA 19 FUT card packs can causes issues for EA under the Polish Gambling Act. According to Article 1, Section II of the Polish Gambling Law “Gambling games include games of chance, betting, card games and games on gaming machines.”
Article 2, however, defines “games of chance” as “games, including those conducted via the Internet, for cash or in-kind prizes, the result of which depends in particular on chance”. But the problem is in the definition of the law and its current wording. None of the definitions provided under Article 2 is an exact match to how Loot Boxes operate.
The notice also mentions how minors have access to the slot machine gambling elements of FIFA 19 FUT mode. The game is also widely advertised to minors without any regulation. The promotion of Ultimate Team mode should be considered advertising of gambling to minors.
Later on an open later by CD-Action, a gaming magazine from Poland, addressed the Ministry of Finance, explaining how loot boxes are not limited to FIFA 19 and urging the Ministry to take action against EA, 2K, and other companies for predatory practices.
EA shared a statement to the media addressing this issue. The company that it takes legal compliance and ethics seriously. Loot boxes are optional and there are parental options to restrict extra payments from minors.