Ireland Says Yes to Loot Boxes
by Glenn Baird - October 3, 2018
Yesterday, Ireland’s gambling regulatory body came out and stated that loot boxes are not a form of gambling.
The debate has been raging across the globe for months now with the Netherlands, Belgium and Australia all determining that loot boxes do constitute gambling. This is in contrast to France and New Zealand, who have both declared that they do not and will now be joined by the Irish, making it 3 each in the current battle for and against loot boxes.
David Stanton, the Department of Justice’s Minister of State seemed to sympathise with regulatory bodies who have made the decision to axe loot boxes, but wanted to be clear that his declaration was one based entirely on the law. He also stated that his ruling does not have any “legal effect” and that he was simply working within the existing law.
He went on to say, “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. To offer gambling products in Ireland, a license is required under the Betting Acts 1931-2015 or the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956. The Revenue Commissioners are the primary responsible licensing authority under both Acts, with some involvement of the Minister for Justice and Equality.
“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 activity would fall within normal consumer law.”
For Stanton there are clearly no lines being blurred, whereas opponents of loot boxes would argue that a black and white approach to the law, whilst making the decision an easy one to make, does not deal with some of the nuances that video games are now bringing to the table.