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EA Submits to Pressure and Removes Fifa Points in Belgium

by Glenn Baird - January 30, 2019

For a while there things had gone quiet on the whole loot box controversy front. The second half of 2018 was a battleground for those sitting on the 2 sides of the argument, with news articles filling Twitter feeds about the pros and cons of different forms of gaming prize crates. The big question was and still is, are loot boxes gambling?

In September last year Belgian authorities decided that loot boxes are a form of gambling, well sort of. They joined their Dutch counterparts, calling for a ban on the purchase of virtual currencies that could be used to buy up loot boxes. This means that the boxes still exist, it is just that in Belgium and the Netherlands you have to earn them through game play and virtual graft.

This means that in Belgium you can no longer pay to gain an advantage in the highly competitive world of Fifa Ultimate Team. For those who don’t know, Fifa release new player packs each week based on real life footballing performances. These come out on a Wednesday and then a scramble ensues to grab the best players before the weekend’s tournaments begin. Essentially, Belgian players will now find themselves at a disadvantage in these tournaments.

EA had originally stated that they would not comply with the new laws but appear to have finally conceded defeat over the matter. In response to the new rules that will come into place at the end of the month EA have released the following statement:

“In addition to providing players options in how they play, we include pack probabilities in our games for the transparency players want to make informed content choices. While we are taking this action, we do not agree with Belgian authorities’ interpretation of the law, and we will continue to seek more clarity on the matter as we go forward. The impact of this change to FIFA Ultimate Team in Belgium is not material to our financial performance.”

For anyone who thought that the controversy surrounding loot boxes had disappeared be prepared for fresh debates throughout 2019, as steps increase to protect young people from gambling.

The question now is how many other countries will follow in Belgian footsteps?

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland sits to the north-west of mainland Europe. The United Kingdom shares a border with The Republic of Ireland and has coasts on the Atlantic Ocean, Celtic Sea, North Sea, Irish Sea and English Channel. The population of the UK is approaching the 67.6 million mark leading to a fairly densely populated land mass. The gambling sector in the United Kingdom is entirely regulated and licensed by the UKGC – the United Kingdom Gambling Commission. Should players resident In the UK wish to gamble with foreign based operators there is no history of this being treated as a criminal offence, but high levels of protection exist for UK residents playing with UK licensed operators.

Disclaimer:

The above information is what we believe to be the the legal status of online gambling, however information on this topic is limited and hard to find. We accept no liability for any errors or ommissions. It is the reader’s responsibility to ensure that they know the legality of online gambling in their country before engaging with any online gambling service.