The Internal Market And Consumer Protection Committee of the EU finally reported on loot boxes in video games. It was, as expected, not so much a damning indictment as a punt into the long grass. Those who regularly take advantage of EU gambling laws at Bet365 will know only too well the Union has difficulties with gaming. It’s a question of jurisdictions. So the report suggests treating loot boxes not as a gambling problem, but a consumer protection issue. Great. Problem solved then, eh?
To give them their due, they actually recognized what loot boxes are. They just couldn’t bring themselves to say so. Referring to “very real gaming-like activities”, they were a tad mealy-mouthed. They didn’t mention the exploitation of children, but did say games use “well-documented behavioral bias”. These are “systematic pitfalls in behavior compared to how rational and well-informed consumers should behave.” What were the odds on the European Union being so coy?
Games take advantage of “problematic design features”, according to the report. These create an “irresistible urge to play”. Apparently. They even criticized “presentational features” which resembled or aped a casino-like aesthetic. Did they thus issue a recommendation for a ban on such game components? No of course not. This isn’t about online betting sites in the EU like Bet365, this is about triple-A gaming. They’re very, very wealthy. So don’t bet on the European Union taking those guys on.
Consumer Protection May Not Protect From Loot Boxes
At least not directly. Attempting to prove games that include loot boxes are encouraging kids to gamble is a tough ask. It is possible to do so, but it would take forever and give the games free publicity. Even were they to manage this, they’d then issue a ban (perhaps) and member states would promptly ignore it. Several already ignore current legislation. So, the odds on the European Union winning that fight to any measurable degree were massively long. They needed a different tack.
“Some reward structures and presentation features might mislead players.” The report said, continuing it could “promote addiction”. To counter this it suggests “responsible game design”. This is like suggesting thieves simply be less greedy, and wear nicer clothes. The odds of the European Union being taken seriously after this aren’t good. That’s why their suggestion it is treated under EU consumer protection laws should be a relief to online sportsbook sites in the EU like Bet365.
“Players should be clearly informed about the presence of loot boxes in games prior to downloading/purchasing them and about the probabilities of receiving certain items from a loot box at the moment of access.”
Odds On The European Union Winning Rise Slightly
Consumer protection jurisdictions within the EU are far beefier than gambling laws in the union. EU directives flow to all corners of their kingdom. So separating loot boxes from gambling might look a bit of a fudge, and the odds on the European Union fudging this were always quite short. However, over the long term, this might just result in meaningful legislation. It’ll still be a fight, but one game producers will find it harder to win. No one likes to think they’re being ripped off. Loot boxes are an obvious rip-off.
“Balancing out the asymmetry in information between the players and publishers.” Is a good first step they believe. Sadly, that’s just an invitation for yet more small-print no player reads. Whilst their heart is in the right place, the IMCP committee has a long way to go. Their comprehension of the practicality still falls well behind the realities. Meanwhile, those who bet on sports in the EU can breathe a little easier. The gambling industry isn’t being tarred with these feathers. Not this time.
We take a look at the IMCP report into look boxes and why you shouldn’t be surprised the odds on the European Union winning this fight is still quite long.