The ongoing struggle to determine whether loot boxes are gambling or not has taken a sudden turn as France’s gambling regulatory board called ARJEL has determined that loot boxes are actually not a form of gambling. They released their view on the topic with the release of their 2017 – 2018 activity report, which has been translated by Sebastian Schwiddessen on Linkedin.
They stated that according to them loot boxes are not part of the definition of gambling due to the fact that the items you gain from them hold no real-world value. This same argument didn’t stop the Dutch government from defining loot boxes as gambling, due to the existence of online monetization platforms. According to ARJEL, any games that prohibit the sale of items gained through loot boxes, which most do, are in the clear.
ARJEL has also made clear that the statement that “loot boxes always provide something” is not a reasonable argument to be made that loot boxes are not a form of gambling. They state the fact that they create a feeling of near miss is why they should be considered a form of gambling. Just like with slot machines, the feeling that you almost got what you wanted is what keeps players coming back for loot boxes and spending money on them.
The regulatory board has said that this definition is not final and that they will look into the issue. They state that loot boxes are problematic and that something has to be done about them, much like with regular gambling. ARJEL also states that since the loot boxes have currently not met their definition of gambling they will take a better look at their own rules and regulations. They state they might have to update their rules in order to define loot boxes as a form of gambling so that stricter regulations can come in place. They have also called upon the Gaming Regulators European Forum to take a stance against loot boxes and better inform the customers.
Although France has declared loot boxes to not be a form of gambling they are clearly against them since they even think about redefining their definition of gambling. It’s clearly looking grim for the future of loot boxes, especially in Europe, although I doubt any gamer minds.